NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, through the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), approved 20 projects worth P832.056 billion last year, adding that it hopes to end this year with an expanded project pipeline.

According to the agency’s annual report issued Wednesday, the NEDA Board, through the ICC-Cabinet Committee (CabCom), cleared 18 new projects with a combined cost of P710.58 billion last year, which included changes in the cost and scope of certain projects.

This is an improvement from the 17 projects approved in 2019 worth P246.7 billion, which included 12 foreign aid-funded projects, three locally-funded ones and two unsolicited public-private partnership projects.

Of the 18 new projects undergoing the approval process, the NEDA said three were returned for re-approval: the P8.79-billion EDSA Greenways Project and two programs concerning the government’s response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worth P71.5 billion.

The two COVID-19-related programs were adjusted to include additional funding for vaccine procurement.

Approved adjustments in ongoing projects include a request to extend the loan validity for mass transit systems in Metro Manila for another three years, and a proposal to increase the budget of the Davao City Bypass Construction Project to P20.96 billion, as well as its scope.

By source of funds, 19 of the 20 approved projects were financed via through foreign loans or official development assistance. One was financed from budget funds.

Proposed projects have to undergo initial assessment by NEDA’s ICC technical board, followed by a review by the ICC-CabCom, before these get to the NEDA Board, chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, for final approval.

NEDA said it conducted 11 ICC technical board meetings and one ICC-CabCom meeting last year.

This year, NEDA ICC-CabCom will be reviewing 17 more infrastructure and other development projects worth P394.96 billion, while 26 projects worth P1.387 trillion will be reviewed by the NEDA ICC technical board.

The NEDA Board has approved 92 projects worth P3.87 trillion between July 2016 and May 2021.

The government promised to deliver P8 trillion worth of infrastructure projects under its flagship Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

Government spending on infrastructure rose 45% from a year earlier to P58.2 billion in April, bringing the year-to-date total to P253.4 billion, up 29%.

The government plans to spend P1.02 trillion on infrastructure this year. — Beatrice M. Laforga