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Duterte to finish 29 flagship projects before term ends

The government expects to finish 29 flagship infrastructure projects worth P238.48 billion before President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

It has added 13 more projects for a total of 119 projects worth P4.73 trillion, presidential adviser for flagship infrastructure projects Vivencio B. Dizon told a televised news briefing on Friday.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has yet to release the updated list.

Mr. Dizon said 11 projects worth P126.76 billion have been completed. Fifty-one projects worth P3.28 trillion are expected to be finished beyond Mr. Duterte’s term.

Twenty-eight projects worth P1.09 trillion are in the pipeline, he added.

He said some projects had been canceled as the state tries to be fiscally prudent amid a coronavirus pandemic.

“We really have to be more prudent about how we finance and what we finance,” Mr. Dizon said, noting that many of these funds had been channeled to the government’s pandemic response.

The government has completed 212 airport projects, 446 seaport projects, 10,376 flood mitigation structures, 26,494 kilometers of roads and 5,555 bridges under Mr. Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program, he said.

He said 102 airport projects, 117 seaport projects, 1,090 kilometers of railways, 2,587 flood mitigation structures, 2,515 kilometers of roads and 1,020 bridges were ongoing.

“Nowhere in our history did we exceed 5% of gross domestic product,” Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua told the same briefing, referring to state infrastructure spending.

“Ten years ago, that was our aspired goal. We could not even reach more than 2% of GDP.”

Mr. Chua said the government had programmed P1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects in the past three years excluding 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have a strong pipeline to ensure that the next administration will have a very good starting point to build on the progress we have so far,” he said. “We will continue to welcome all possible financing options.”

Government infrastructure spending grew by 45% to P58.2 billion in April from a year earlier, according to data from the Budget department. The spending declined by 34% from a month earlier.

On a monthly basis, infrastructure spending rose by 29% to P253.4 billion in the four months to April.

The higher spending mainly came from various infrastructure projects of the Public Works and Transportation departments.

These include the first segment of the Metro Manila Subway project and North-South Commuter Railway project.

The inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee expects state infrastructure spending to have peaked at P324.974 billion in the second quarter from P243 billion in January to March.

The government has a P1.02-trillion infrastructure spending plan for the year.

Meanwhile, the World Bank said it had approved a $280-million (P13.5 billion) loan for the Philippines to boost infrastructure projects in the countryside.

The loan is an additional financing for the Philippine Rural Development Project and will be complemented by a newly approved €18.3-million (P1.06 billion) grant, the multilateral lender said in a statement on Friday.

The bank expects more than 300,000 Filipinos in rural areas to benefit from the project.

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