The implementation of infrastructure and development projects under the Duterte administration is on the right track and “at a faster pace,” according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

At a media briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda Director General Ernesto M. Pernia said the Duterte administration has moved quickly to implement reforms to accelerate infrastructure development throughout the country.

“Guided by the zero to 10-point agenda of the President, we are carrying on with the macroeconomic policies of the previous administration, but ramping up infrastructure spending, promoting regional and rural development, and investing heavily in human- capital development, which includes health and education and nutrition,” Pernia said.

“In the first 50 days of this administration, I can say that we are on the right track and at a faster pace to make sure that we achieve our goals,” he added.

While crediting the previous administration for sound fiscal and monetary policy, Pernia noted that the Aquino administration focused too much on the macroeconomy.
“What we intend to do is to focus now on the subnational economies. Subnational, regional economies, including rural areas and agriculture, in order to disperse development away from the mega-urban industrial region comprising Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon,” he said.

Pernia said the Neda is revisiting agricultural and rural-development policies and innovations to help the farmers.

“We are revisiting policies in agriculture and rural development, which have lagged behind amid consistent economic growth,” Pernia said.

He said 10 infrastructure and development projects, worth P320 billion, are up for approval by the Neda Board next month.

“The Neda Board, chaired by the President, is the last stage of the hurdle for the projects,” Pernia said.

He added that rural-development projects include farm irrigation, farm-to-market roads, school buildings in depressed areas, regional hospitals, airport modernization, flood management and the North-South Railway South Line Project.

The Neda official also mentioned the proposed Edsa Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit project and the Mindanao Railway Project that are seen to spur economic development in Mindanao.

Pernia said the initial stage of the Mindanao Railway project will be implemented in 2017, “once approved by the Neda Board within the year.”

Aside from prioritizing the completion of the Mindanao railway, Pernia said the Neda, through the Infrastructure Committee (InfraCom), has specified measures to urgently solve the traffic problem in Metro Manila.

“Once such measure is the immediate implementation of the Bonifacio Global City-Ortigas Link Bridge, which is expected to divert 25 percent of the Edsa traffic,” he said.

Other important infrastructure projects aimed to solve the traffic woes are the common station for the MRT 3, LRT 1 and the to-be-constructed MRT 7, and the utilization of the Batangas and Subic ports to decongest the Manila ports.

To address institutional legal and policy issues in the implementation of infrastructure projects, Pernia underscored the need to convene the Legislative Executive Development and Advisory Council (Ledac), which has been dormant in the previous administration.

“So, we are revitalizing and getting that active again. The Ledac is scheduled to convene in September or October,” he said.

Among the proposed legislative measures are creation of the Water Resources Department; independent economic and financial regulator for the water sector; and National Transport Policy; and amendments of the build-operate-transfer; the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and the Water Code of the Philippines.

To accelerate foreign investment on infrastructure development, Pernia said the Neda has recently launched an online database system and streamline the project-approval process.

In line with the updating of the core investment program, he said the Public Investment Program Online System was launched to allow agencies to submit automatically online their data entries, updates and reports on their priority programs and projects.

23 August 2016
By Philippine News Agency