Today our country is in the midst of an “infrastructure crisis” caused by decades of inadequate investments and poor maintenance of public works. Daily the media raises alarming reports of an energy crisis which will accelerate the citizen’s date with purgatory in the summer of 2015. Beware the ides of May we are told. Incoming passengers bewail the poor facilities in the airports while commuters suffer daily from traffic jams made more acute by congestion in the piers. Life is almost not worth living in the city dubbed Pearl of the Orient Seas in the days of the Philippine Commonwealth.
Ironically billions of pesos in PDAF and DAP funds did not make a dent in this sector! We had hoped that the billions would have been employed to develop the port areas in Batangas and Central Luzon to decongest the Port of Manila to build the railway from the Metro to the Calabarzon and Northern Luzon, to rehabilitate the aborted nuclear facility, to complete the intramodal system within the Metro and develop the budding shipbuilding industry (which promoted the Galleon Trade of the past ) in Cebu and Subic and finally to address the unfinished business of the inadequacies of our international airports.
It goes without saying that basic physical and organizational structures propel the economy by providing the set of interconnected structural elements that are the framework supporting the entire structure of development. This is important not only in the production of goods and services but also in the distribution of the same.
Unfortunately for us, our infrastructure development has been at best haphazard like an ill-designed quilt and at worst suffering from benign neglect. For the next administration to accelerate development the following infrastructure development menu is recommended for immediate attention:
The improvement of the intramodal and intermodal transport system of highways, streets, roads, bridges, mass transit, airports and airways; the provision of adequate water supply and water resources (the next big crisis!) and most importantly, electric power generation and transmission.
In sum much more is needed in the areas of transport infrastructure such as mass transit systems, energy infrastructure of power networks, grids of both conventional and non-conventional energy water management of water systems including the system of reservoirs, pipes and other distribution systems; communications infrastructure of telephone and mobile networks to include communications satellites and undersea cables, and not but not the least solid waste management and meteorological monitoring networks in this typhoon prone archipelago.
The above items are what are known as hard infrastructure items. Below is a list of the soft ones which are equally important. These are:
1. Governance Infrastructure: a more efficient system of law enforcement, speedy justice, creative legislation and the efficient system of collecting storing, and disseminating data, laws and regulation.
2. Economic Infrastructure: a sounder macro-economic management, a solid banking system and that of financial institutions and the promotion of the internal and external stability of the currency.
On the harder infrastructure side —the provision of an efficient supply chain of logistics facilities such as warehousing and shipping facilities; manufacturing infrastructure such as industrial parks served by efficient transport system and cheap utilities. Last but not the least are agricultural, forestry and fisheries infrastructures served by feeder roads, extensive irrigation, warehousing facilities a research and development institutions etc
3. Social Infrastructure: This comprises the provision of an effective healthcare system that includes primary, secondary and tertiary care and an educational system that promote universal education ranging from primary to vocational and higher learning.
4. Cultural, Sports and Recreational Infrastructure: This includes sports and recreational facilities such as parks, sports facilities, cultural centers, museums and libraries, theatres and studios to make our athletes globally competitive and our cultural fares world class.
A tall order? Yes, but necessary!