PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has approved eight new projects worth P270 billion to boost the country’s infrastructure, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
In a statement, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the new projects were taken up during the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board meeting presided by Duterte on Monday.
The big-ticket projects include the 653-kilometer North-South Railway that will connect Manila’s Tutuban shopping district to Legazpi City in Albay province, with extensions from Legazpi to Matnog in Sorsogon and Calamba, Laguna to Batangas province.
The North-South Railway Project, which will be rolled out under the public-private partnership scheme, will have a 34-year concession period.
Duterte has promised to overhaul the country’s creaking transport systems to attract more investors, under a plan to raise infrastructure spending to a record seven percent of gross domestic product.
Also approved were the “Scaling up of the Second Cordillera Highlands Agricultural Resources Management Project,” the “Expansion of the Philippine Rural Development Project,” the improvement or widening of the General Luis-Kaybiga-Polo-Novaliches Road to up to Valenzuela City, the New Cebu International Port, the Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project, Stage 2 and the New Nayong Pilipino at the Pagcor Entertainment City.
Abella said two other projects – the unbundling of five regional airport project and the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project – were deferred.
“That makes for 17 infrastructure projects amounting to approximately P500 billion in the first four-and-a-half months of the Duterte administration,” he said.
The NEDA board previously approved nine projects worth P171.14 billion, all expected to be completed within the next six years.
Abella said the NEDA board also discussed guidelines on Chinese assistance for infrastructure projects.
These guidelines, he said, provide that the source of financing for pre-investment studies must not be tied to a particular country, technology or lender. Suppliers must be qualified and of “good standing.”
Some Chinese contractors tapped to conduct preliminary studies on government projects were earlier reported to have been blacklisted by the World Bank.