The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) is eyeing the review of the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) evaluation process in a bid to fast-track approval for implementation-ready projects.
On the sidelines of the Neda turnover ceremonies on Friday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda Director General Ernesto M. Pernia echoed the President’s call to cut red tape in government agencies.
Pernia said the Neda’s response would be to do the same, including the review of the ICC process, which evaluates and approves big-ticket government projects.
“We have to decide what steps in the red tape, in the approval of things, can be cut out. We should be able to do that in 100 days,” Pernia said.
“We need to speed up, the low-hanging fruits and then those that are ready for implementation. [We have to push for] speed and efficiency,” he added.
Pernia, however, said any change in the ICC process would have to be consulted with other Cabinet members.
Efforts to fast-track projects augurs well with the Duterte government’s aim of increasing infrastructure spending to at least 5 percent of GDP.
Other priorities of the Neda in the first 100 days is to craft the Duterte government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP), or the administration’s socioeconomic blueprint for the next six years.
Pernia said the Neda should be able to complete a draft of the PDP in 100 days or less. This will enable the government to present the complete PDP by December 2016.
“We have to get started on the PDP. We should be well on the way to completing it. We need to have a draft probably by three months [or] maybe four months,” Pernia said.
The ICC is one of the seven inter-agency committees that advise the Neda Board, the highest policy-making body of the government.
The approval process of the ICC has been revised recently, particularly the process of evaluating public-private partnership (PPP) projects.
In a policy circular issued in March 2016 obtained by the BusinessMirror, the PPP Governing Board is mulling over the extension of the project-evaluation process of the ICC Technical Working Group to 10 working days from the initial 15 days.
This policy circular amended the 2014 memorandum circular issued to then-PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao by former Neda Director General Arsenio M. Balisacan.
The 2014 memorandum circular stated that project appraisal for PPPs will no longer go through the ICC Technical Board, but through a technical working group, which will evaluate PPPs in 10 working days.
However, it can be noted that since the 2014 memorandum circular, several PPP projects have suffered delays and underwent rebidding. These projects include the Light Rail Transit Line 1 South Extension and, more recently, the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike Project. Both were initially approved by the ICC and the Neda Board in 2014.
Other PPPs that have encountered problems recently are the Davao Sasa Port project and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, which were also approved in 2014.