Neda OKs 7 ‘high impact projects’ under PBBM

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan

The construction of a new Dumaguete airport, rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the creation of the flood control system in Mindanao are among the seven “high impact projects,” which were approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board during its meeting on Thursday.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan disclosed the approved projects would help the administration achieve its medium term “economic and social transformation” targets.

“In line with the strategies identified under the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028, the approval of these high-impact projects is a manifestation of the Marcos administration’s strong commitment of improving the quality of life of the Filipino people,” Balisacan said at a news conference in Malacañang on Friday.

“In the next six years, we can look forward to seeing more of our agencies and sectors working hand in hand toward creating a prosperous, inclusive, and resilient society,” he added.

Affordable services

Among the said projects is the P6-billion University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Cancer Center-the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) project of the Marcos administration.

Balisacan assured the center would remain to be owned by the government and only be operated by the private sector for a given period under a Build-Operate-Transfer scheme.

“To set the record straight, there will be no privatization of PGH services. The government shall own the entire facility and PGH shall continue to operate as a public hospital,” Balisacan said.

He also noted the center will dedicate half of its 300-bed capacity to accommodate poor patients.

“The ward is really for the, that part of the facility, is for the low-income groups,” Balisacan said.

No unjustifiable increases

Also approved during the meeting was the proposal to increase the budget of the MRT 3 Rehabilitation project from P21.9 billion to P29.6 billion.

It aims to restore MRT 3 to its “as-designed state” with a provision for capacity expansion.

“All subsystems will be restored, renewed, or upgraded, including the tracks, signaling system, power supply system, overhead catenary system, and communication system as well as maintenance and station equipment,” Balisacan said.

The project is not expected to translate to excessive fare hikes for MRT.

“And of course, again, the contract has to be designed in such a way that we protect the interest of the riding public that there will be no sharp increases in—or unjustifiable increases in fare,” Balisacan said.

ICC approved

Balisacan also announced the Neda Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) also approved three projects, which will be funded through Official Development Assistance (ODA) from other countries, international financial institutions and the government.

These include the new P17-billion Dumaguete Airport Development Project of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), which will be partially funded by the Export Import Bank of Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund.

The new airport will be constructed in Bacong, Negros Oriental and replace the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport.

“The new Dumaguete Airport shall enhance the province’s tourism and trade potential, economic activities and standard of living,” Balisacan said.

Also approved is the Mindanao Inclusive Agriculture Development Project (MIADP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), “which aims to increase agricultural productivity, resiliency and access to markets and services of organized farmers and fisherfolk groups” in ancestral domains in Mindanao.

The P6.6-billion project will be funded through a loan from the World Bank.

The ICC also gave its go signal for the first phase of the P20-billion Integrated Flood Resilience and Adaptation Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will fund the project, which will provide strategic flood risk management in three target major river basins, namely, Abra, Ranao and Tagum-Libuganon in Mindanao.

Better commuter experience

The Neda Board also approved the two more projects, which aim to provide better experience for commuters.

It approved the use of the P2.12 billion loan balance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to improve the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The project will include the maintenance and resiliency enhancement of the CNS/ATM as well as the feasibility study for the independent back-up of the system.

“The approval includes a 60-month loan with a validity extension from 2023 to 2028 to cover their preceding intended utilization,” Balisacan said.

The government decided to prioritize updating the CNS/ATM after it suffered from a glitch last month, which resulted in the temporary disruptions of operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

Balisacan said they also approve the increase in cost and extension of the implementation period for the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project from 2023 to 2029.

“The project involves delivering a modern, high-priority bus system for Davao City wherein interconnected bus services will be prioritized along 29 routes,” Balisacan said.


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