Water, transport focus of 1st Ledac meeting

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MEASURES that will address impediments on water resources and transport projects in the country will be among the priority bills of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) under the Duterte Administration, a high-ranking Cabinet official said.

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Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the members of the Ledac have already discussed the details of the proposed legislative measures on water resources and transport policies.

“The [bills are meant]to minimize impediments in the construction of transport projects, like right of way [disputes]. The main objective is to speed up the process, bidding, and implementation of projects,” said Pernia, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority director general.

The government earlier this week said it is considering pursuing round-the-clock or 24/7 construction for all major Metro Manila infrastructure projects as well as projects in Cebu and Davao.

This is to recognize the economic cost of project delays, which is estimated at P2.3 billion everyday, Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.

For water resources, Pernia said, the measures would address problems encountered in irrigation projects like land acquisition in the rural areas, and the conflicting interests of different agencies.

“We were just talking about it in the previous meeting so were looking for somebody to sponsor it,” he added.

Bills on water resources and transport policies are in line with the 10-point economic agenda of the Duterte Administration, he pointed out.

As part of that agenda, the government has said it will promote rural and value chain development to increase agricultural and rural enterprise productivity.

Some of the outcomes of the first Ledac meeting drew on recommendations from the business community. In a consultative conference held in Davao last month, business groups in the country also recommended support services for farmers through the adoption of value-chain development through financing, technology, and logistics in rural-based enterprises, including agriculture and mariculture.

The businessmen also want improvement of transport networks, and fast-tracking of infrastructure projects nationwide. Priority should be given to the development of regional airports, seaports, and mass transit projects such as the North-South Railway, C-6 Expressway, Cebu Bus Rapid Transit, and Davao Port projects, they recommended.

The business groups also called for the reduction of public-private partnership bottlenecks and respect for contracts, saying that concrete measures should be made to remove roadblocks preventing speedy implementation of vital infra projects, such as right-of-way issues and lack of synergy between local governments and national government agencies.

They also recommended the development of regional industries, noting the need for a national strategy to determine sectors where the country has the greatest competitive advantages and optimize the value of our land, people, and other resources.

They suggested an action plan to identify industry clusters and regions where small and medium enterprises should locate to avail of lower transport, energy, and logistics costs.

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