DOF: Mindanao to be center of ‘Build, Build, Build’ program

THE Department of Finance (DOF) said Mindanao is poised to be the center of the Duterte administration’s infrastructure buildup, or its “Build, Build, Build” program, with a number of its infrastructure projects rolled out or completed this year to link the island’s outlying communities to the urban mainstream.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said Mindanao is now in the “front and center” of the government’s infrastructure buildup under the Duterte administration, saying that, in the Zamboanga Peninsula alone, the government allocated P23 billion this year for road construction and improvement projects.

“For many years, the people of Mindanao complained of neglect by Imperial Manila…. The many decades of neglect will end now. This island of great promise will be in the front and center of the massive infrastructure program being rolled out by the Duterte administration,” Dominguez said.

He added funding coming from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act will help support its unprecedented infrastructure buildup for Mindanao and the rest of the country, as well as bankroll the government’s increased spending on social services.

The TRAIN is the first package under the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.

The finance chief said the big-ticket infrastructure projects being rolled out in Mindanao by the government will “bring the entire island to the mainstream of national progress.”

“Build, Build, Build will help stimulate economic activity in all provinces, without exception,” he said.

The unprecedented public investments for Mindanao will fast-track development in the South, as infrastructure has the “best multiplier effect” on the economy, Dominguez said.

He said the country’s GDP growth rate will expand to 7 percent or better, and poverty incidence will fall to only 14 percent by 2022, in line with the government’s infrastructure spending reaching P8.4 trillion over the next five years.

“Thanks to the support of our taxpayers, we are now ready to implement some of the strategic infrastructure projects that will benefit Mindanao’s economy. These projects will link the outlying communities to the mainstream of national wealth creation,” he said.

In the Zamboanga Peninsula alone, Dominguez said the Department of Public Works and Highways  has 754 road projects in the pipeline amounting to P23 billion for 2018. Of these projects, 102 are road-construction and -improvement projects for Zamboanga City worth P1.16 billion. This includes the 36-kilometer bypass road project that is targeted to be completed this year.

Once completed, the road will serve as an alternative route for business from the neighboring cities of Dipolog and Pagadian, plus municipalities in the Peninsula transporting goods to the Zamboanga Freeport Zone in Labuan, Zamboanga City.

The bypass road will reduce the travel time from one hour to 30 minutes from east to west of Zamboanga City and vice versa.

As for the flagship infrastructure projects for Mindanao, the finance chief cited at least four projects designed to jump-start economic development in the island, which includes the P5.4-billion Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project Phase 2 in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, which will irrigate almost 10,000 hectares of land in 56 conflict-affected areas. It is targeted for completion this year; P98 billion Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network, to link farms to markets in the region. The project has been ongoing since 2015 and is targeted for completion in 2019; P21-billion Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project, which involves the construction and improvement of a 276-kilometer network of roads in the Zamboanga area. The project will commence this year and is expected to be completed by 2020.

The Mindanao Railway Project will also be implemented soon. The DOF will also support the proposal to transfer the current airport in Zamboanga City to a new, more viable location.

On top of infrastructure spending, the government has also mobilized all its agencies to rebuild Marawi City, with the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan now in its final stages of formulation.

“We want to assure all the people of Mindanao that the DOF is 100-percent behind the rehabilitation of Marawi,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez added he has designated DOF Assistant Secretary Paola A. Alvarez as the DOF’s representative to help carry out the Bangon Marawi plan.




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