Japan ODA to fund over $8-B transport projects

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JAPAN will likely finance through official development assistance (ODA) three major transportation projects in the Philippines, initially estimated at more than $8 billion, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Thursday.

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Fourteen projects have been discussed in the first meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation in Tokyo this week, NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

The first three of these projects are the $1.9-billion speed train from Malolos in Bulacan to Clark, Pampanga; the $2.674-billion commuter line from Tutuban, Manila to Los Baños, Laguna; and the $4.3 billion Mega Metro Manila Subway System from FTI to North EDSA.

“These are really mega projects. So I would consider them flagship projects. The railway and commuter line are intended to disperse the development away from Manila, which is already suffering from congestion,” Pernia said.

The feasibility study on the subway system will be completed in September this year, while the project signing for the subway system will likely happen in November during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in the Philippines.

The feasibility study on the commuter line will be completed in April next year, with the groundbreaking happen six to eight months after.

Eleven other projects were discussed by the joint committee, but Pernia said it is too early to announce any detail at this point.

In a separate statement, the Department of Finance (DoF) said the priority list discussed in Tokyo include railway, irrigation and public works projects such as road and flood management.

Additional projects in public works, energy and industrial zone development were also submitted for possible ODA financing.

The Japanese side will review the projects for possible bilateral cooperation, the DoF said.

The first meeting of the Joint Committee took place in Kantei, the Prime Minister’s Office. The Philippine side was headed by the Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, while the Japanese side was led by Dr. Hiroto Izumi, the special advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

During the meeting in Tokyo, the DoF said Philippine and Japanese official consulted with each other on how to enhance cooperation such as improving approval processes and project design and implementation, including support for feasibility studies requested by the Philippines.

Top officials of both countries also discussed the formulation of action plans to speed up the implementation of Philippine projects in cooperation with Japan, it said.

The joint committee is set to hold another meeting this year, in the Philippines this time but no date has yet been set.

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