‘Next leader should focus on infrastructure’

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CONSUMER group Citizenwatch said the next president should give immediate focus on drastically improving the country’s infrastructure.

Citizenwatch Secretary General Wilford Wong said that whoever will become the next president should upgrade the country’s rickety infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is now a key political issue. It is not just the productivity that is affected when one has to endure an hour and a half to two hours just to travel five to six kilometers to work and another two hours to get back home. The serious situation in our transportation and power supply is the result of years of government inaction,” Wong said.

An international think tank also said whoever will replace President Benigno Aquino 3rd should pour massive investments in infrastructure but ensure that these are “high-quality and extensive” projects, specifically in transport, energy, and information and communications technology (ICT).


ADR Institute for Strategic International Studies President Dindo Manhit said that spending on infrastructure will kick-start the country’s “long overdue economic rebalancing.”

“With an investment-led economy led by world-class infrastructure, the expansion of the country’s services sector will be complemented by the revitalization of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors,” the group’s recently published book Thinking Beyond Politics, said.

The Aquino administration has substantially increased infrastructure spending in the past five years – from P165 billion in 2010 to P760 billion this year – and has laid out a multibillion-peso infrastructure blueprint for its successor from 2017 to 2019, according to the Department of Budget and Management.

But Aquino’s successor still faces serious hurdles in the implementation of projects, mainly in the arena of governance and politics, according to the book.

“The next administration [has]to overcome inter-departmental and inter-party politicking, eliminate perennial bureaucratic hurdles, and ensure efficient and effective systems and mechanisms of development and implementation of transport-related projects,” it said.

In a March 2016 paper, the think tank said the government’s Public-Private Partnership Center should be transformed from a “mere coordinating agency” to a one-stop shop for infrastructure development, which will manage conceptualization, evaluation, and approval of projects.

Pending bills on the Build-Operate-Transfer Law and key reforms in taxation, permits, and contracts should also be prioritized, the paper said.

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