The Duterte government vowed to change the sequential order of implementing public projects in the past and will, instead, speed up building new infrastructure in the next six years.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the move is in line with the government’s promise of a “golden age” in the country’s infrastructure sector that should bolster economic growth even further.
“The problem is that, they did projects sequentially before. We’re not gonna do that. We learned from the mistakes of past administrations. That’s why we’ve opened unsolicited proposals,” Diokno said as a panel speaker during the BDO Nomura Infrastructure and PPP Outlook forum on Monday.
“Whenever there is a change in administration, they [government]update the plans and projects, which take years to implement. For us, we are willing to take on the project designed by the past administration. If it’s a good project, we will implement it,” he added.
Diokno said the traditional way of proceeding with projects in the Philippines, especially in the public sector, involved a step-by-step process practiced by developers and contractors, instead of taking all the needed steps simultaneously for faster implementation and delivery.
In the past, it took three years or more, sometimes stretching up to a decade, to finish an infrastructure project, yielding detrimental results for the country’s economic growth, he said.
Diokno was responding to a question raised by DMCI Holdings Inc.’s Isidro Consunji during the panel discussion, citing the slow implementation of past projects and uncertainty in policies despite fine-tuned plans, abundant funding sources and private sector willingness to help.
Consunji pointed out the need for “predictability” and consistency in economic governance, which he said would help accelerate the completion of infrastructure projects.
Ramping up infra project
Diokno said the government is ramping up infrastructure spending in 2017, setting the budget for such at 5.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, which can further increase to 7.2 percent by 2022.
For projects under the public private partnership (PPP) scheme, the budget secretary said the government aims to roll out a total of 17 PPP projects by end-2017 worth P580 billion. To date, the country has already 13 PPP projects in place valued at P293.3 billion.
To end the “past neglect” of the infrastructure segment, solutions toward faster project implementation include “non-stop” 24/7 construction, which will be implemented starting January next year, as well as the reduction of the average processing time of PPP projects to 18 to 20 months, from the current 29 months.
Diokno said the government estimates to spend a total of P8.3 trillion or $180 billion for infrastructure in the next six years of the Duterte administration.