Business World, 18 January 2013

TWO MORE project in the government’s priority public-private partnership (PPP) list have been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board, together with three other rural infrastructure projects, a Palace official said Friday.

Secretary Ramon “Ricky” A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said the five projects, worth a total of P146.83 billion, were approved by the board headed by President Benigno S.C. Aquino III after a meeting on Friday.

The two PPP projects are the P35.5 Cavite-Laguna expressway (Cala-Ex) and the P25.56-billion unsolicited proposal of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) to connect the North Luzon and South Luzon expressways (NLex and SLex).

The projects were conditionally approved by the board in November last year pending a costing review.

Mr. Carandang said the cost of the Cala-Ex — a four-lane, 47.02-kilometer (km) road connector — was brought down to P35.5 billion from P43.4 after “little adjustments” on specification and design were made.

The contract for the NLEx-SLEx connector road, meanwhile, involves the construction of a 3.4-km, four-lane elevated expressway over the Philippine National Railway (PNR) right of way from Caloocan to Buendia Ave. in Makati. The project, which aims to decongest traffic in Metro Manila, is expected to be finished by 2016.

Roll out of the two PPPs is expected this year, Mr. Carandang said.

Also approved were the:

• P2.9-billion livelihood programs under the Cordillera Highlands Agricultural Resource Management project;

• P1.03-billion dam project in Pasa river in Isabela; and

• P81.9-billion continuation of the anti-poverty project of the Department of Social Work and Development called the Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service (Kalahi-Cidss).

These projects will be partially funded through official development assistance in addition to government appropriation, Mr. Carandang said.

“All these projects were meant to promote inclusive and rapid growth,” the Palace official told reporters after the board meeting.

Since the PPP program was first presented to investors in the fourth quarter of 2010, only two projects have been awarded, so far: Ayala Corp’s P1.956-billion Daanghari-Southern Luzon Expressway Link Road and BF Corp. and Megawide-Citicore’s P16.5-billion school building program.

Seven other projects — the P1.72-billion automatic fare collection system for Metro Manila’s three railways, the P1.16-billion rehabilitation of Angat power plant’s two turbines, the P5.6-billion Orthopedic Center rehabilitation, the P60-billion Light Rail Transit-1 Cavite extension, the P15.86-billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway 2, the P8.8-billion phase 2 of the public school infrastructure project, and the P17.51-billion new passenger terminal building in the Mactan-Ceby International airport — are in the pre-bidding stages. — Noemi M. Gonzales