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House approves measure calling for 30-year infrastructure program plan on third reading

THE House of Representatives approved on third reading a bill seeking to adopt a 30-year National Infrastructure Program (NIP).

At Monday’s plenary session, 254 legislators voted to approve House Bill No. 8078, with three voting against and zero abstentions.

The infrastructure plan aims to achieve “the overall long-term development vision for the Philippines by the middle of the century as a prosperous, predominantly middle-class society,” according to the bill.

The bill proposed to focus infrastructure efforts on transportation, energy, water resources, information and communications technology, agri-fisheries modernization and food logistics, and social infrastructure.

The NIP will be funded by the national budget, public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements, including hybrid PPPs, or local government units, or a combination of these sources.

The measure set a goal of developing a national transport system that is safe, efficient, economical, accessible, affordable, environmentally sustainable, user-oriented, integrated, and seamless. It also seeks to address the “fragmented” nature of water resources management.

The bill set objectives for a digital infrastructure network that ensures internet access to unserved and underserved areas, and to provide schools with facilities for online or distance learning.

“Massive infrastructure spending has been a consistent feature of previous and current administrations, (which see it) as key driver of economic growth and a generator of job opportunities. However, we have seen how this policy thrust has barely translated to meaningful transformative changes in the Philippine economy, especially on the quality of life,” Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Party-list Representative Arlene D. Brosas, one of the legislators voting against the measure, said.

She added that the NIP “will lock in public resources towards projects that will primarily benefit foreign investors, exporters of steel and cement and local partners for a long period of time.”

She said that resources should be focused on producing capital goods and achieving genuine agrarian reform. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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