THE Department of Finance (DOF) has pointed out that Cebu stands to benefit from at least three big-ticket infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program in step with the DOF’s goal of boosting this province’s status as a major growth driver of the national economy.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the strong support of the Philippines’s friends in the region in the form of official development assistance (ODA) comprising of grants and soft loans has allowed the government to pursue “hybrid” public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects faster and at lower costs.
“These infrastructure investments are being made with the expectation that Cebu will continue playing a strong role as one of the reliable growth drivers of the national economy,” Dominguez said in a speech read for him by DOF Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin at a conference in Cebu.
The finance chief explained that in Cebu, the construction of the New Cebu International Container Port, which is expected to be completed by 2020, is being supported by Korean ODA.
Meanwhile, two other big-ticket projects in the area, which are up for submission to the Investment Coordination Committee, are the 24.5-kilometer Cebu-to-Bohol Link Bridge and the 5.5-kilometer Cebu-Negros Link Bridge.
Dominguez said that, aside from the generous ODA provided by the country’s allies in the region, the government can also count on the fiscal space created by the Philippines’s investment-grade ratings and robust revenue flows from the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) to support massive investments in infrastructure.
The second CTRP package that aims to reduce corporate income taxes while reforming the investment-incentives system is expected to be passed by Congress this year.
Another program expected to further drive the Philippines economic growth in the immediate term and make it more inclusive is the BBB program, comprising not only the three multibillion-peso projects for Cebu but also the 72 other flagship projects that will develop growth corridors in other parts of the country and sharpen the economy’s competitiveness.
“Complemented by an extensive road-building program undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways, this infrastructure program will bring all areas of the archipelago into the growth mainstream,” he added.
The BBB program will provide the stimulus to expand the country’s GDP by 7 percent or better, which will enable the government to reduce poverty incidence to only 14 percent by 2022, the finance chief said.
“Twenty-three of the flagship infrastructure projects have passed the approvals process and are ready for execution,” Dominguez said. “We expect the rest of the projects to clear the approvals process this year, and we aspire to complete the majority of these projects before President Duterte’s term ends in 2022.”