President Marcos approves flagship infrastructure projects of Build Better More (BBM) program worth P9 trillion

Philippine infrastructure will continue to develop and improve over time as almost two hundred projects worth P9 trillion have been approved recently by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) news article. This is the latest about the Build Better More (BBM) program.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA news report. Some parts in boldface…

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved 194 high-impact infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) worth PHP9 trillion, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced Thursday.

Marcos, who chairs the NEDA Board, greenlit these projects in a meeting with NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and other members of the board at Malacañan Palace.

“The approved new list of infrastructure flagship projects includes a total of 194 projects amounting to about PHP9 trillion,” Balisacan announced in a Palace press briefing.

Of the 194 projects, Baliscan said 123 projects were initiated during the Marcos administration while the remaining 71 projects were from the administration of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“…The basis for their inclusion there is, this has been approved and this has been before and they have been already implemented. In other words, they have started and so, we cannot discontinue any of those projects,” he said.

Balisacan said these projects will showcase the administration’s “Build Better More” infrastructure program, which is among the priorities under the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda.

He noted that majority of these infrastructure flagship projects are in physical connectivity and water resources which include projects in irrigation, water supply and flood management.

The list also includes projects in digital connectivity, health, power and energy, agriculture and other infrastructure.

“Some of the new projects included in the new list are the Panay Railway Project; Mindanao Railway Project III; North Long Haul Railway; San Mateo Railway; UP-PGH Diliman Project; Ninoy Aquino International Airport Rehabilitation Project; Ilocos Sur Transbasin Project; and the Metro Cebu Expressway,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan said the IFPs are seen to address the binding constraints to business investment and expansion that will create more high quality and resilient jobs.

“IFPs shall be prioritized under the government’s annual budget preparation and enjoy the benefits of expedited issuance of applicable permits and licenses consistent with current legal frameworks,” he added.

He said the projects will adopt an optimal mix of financing from various development partners or official development assistance (ODA), the national government and general appropriations, and the private sector, particularly public-private partnerships.

Balisacan said 45 out of the 194 projects are seen to be financed through partnerships with the private sector.

“The government shall harness the financial and technical resources of the private sector which allows the public sector to allocate its funds for greater investment in human capital development, especially to address the scarring in health and education due to the pandemic, and provide targeted assistance that protects vulnerable sectors from economic shocks,” he said.

Joint Venture guidelines – Meanwhile, Baliscan also announced that the NEDA Board also approved the proposed amendments to the 2013 NEDA Joint Venture Guidelines.

“The amendments aim to enhance competition for projects under joint ventures, ensure better performance of private sector participants, and improve check and balances to ensure that the project is technically and financially sound,” he said.

He said the amendments will also help ensure that the guidelines are aligned with the provisions of the recently amended Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Law Implementing Rules and Regulations, and the proposed amendments to the BOT Law or PPP Act pending in Congress but expected to be passed by this year.

“What we are addressing there is: Number one is to simplify the joint ventures. Again, to make sure that the joint ventures can move efficiently and quickly and will address the public interest, concerns. And so, the amendments will involve putting in place features that improve the competitive processes in the selection of joint venture partners. So, in other words hindi “lutong Macau” iyong mga JVs kundi (the JVs were not rigged) you know, properly completed by or offered in competition,” he added.

Economic transformation – Baliscan described the approval of the new IFP list and the amendments to the NEDA JV Guidelines as a ”giant step” towards the administration’s goal of elevating the country’s competitiveness in promoting the Philippines as a prime investment destination in the region.

Although the country has “much work to do” to catch up with its neighbors in the region, Baliscan said pursuing high-impact initiatives will encourage greater local and foreign investment and private sector participation in infrastructure development.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this new development? Do you think that the nation’s infrastructure improvement will lead to better transportation accessibility as well as reinvigorating the economy?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.


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