To consider major projects.

All National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee-approved (ICC-CabCom) projects are up for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s go ahead in early this year.

Socioeconomic Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan said the NEDA Board chaired by President Duterte will soon meet to discuss major projects by the Philippine government, including those China-funded official development assistance (ODA).

Tungpalan, however, disclosed some ICC-CabCom-approved projects have “certain issues” that the economic mangers have to discuss with the President.

“The economic managers have to decide because certain issues on the periphery may accompany certain projects,” the NEDA official told reporters when asked about the projects up for President Duterte’s approval.

But what is certain, Tungpalan said is the safe Philippines project, an initiative supporting the Duterte administration’s peace and order programs and funded by the Chinese government, will be among the priorities of the NEDA Board.

Also included in the NEDA Board agenda are the acquisition of six marine disaster response helicopters, and the Bridge Construction Acceleration Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Tungpalan said.

Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning Assistant Secretary Jonathan Uy said that the additional financing of the Bohol Airport, the Circumferential Road for the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project, and the Jalaur River Multipurpose Irrigation Project in Iloilo were also up for the NEDA Board nod.

In 2017, the NEDA Board approved 20 projects including adjustments to the project proposals.

In a related development, Tungpalan said the NEDA-ICC asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for additional information on the new Manila International Airport project unsolicitedly proposed by San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

Tungpalan said the NEDA-ICC requested for addition information before the committee’s Technical Board decide whether to approve or reject the proposal.

In particular, Tungpalan said the NEDA-ICC Technical Board wanted a Financial Internal Rate of Return (FIRR) that would serve as the “parameter for [the] Swiss Challenge.”

But if approved, Tungpalan said the government expects San Miguel to complete the new Manila International Airport before the President Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

“We asked the DOTr to submit additional information to enable us to validate some of the assumptions. The DOTr has submitted information, [but] I don’t know if it has already been assessed by the appraising offices,” Tungpalan said.

The technical board will meet on January 11.

“We have a January 11 ICC Technical Board [meeting]. We [need] to ascertain whether it’s [project is] ready. In other words, there is new information that would lend us to sharpen our analysis. January 11 is a critical date,” Tungpalan said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the Duterte administration is still considering SMC’s unsolicited proposal to build an airport in a land owned by the diversifying conglomerate in Bulacan.

Pernia said the Neda will be looking at the proposal’s merits, particularly whether the project will have “conditions.” Should there be any conditions, the NEDA secretary said this will be a point against the proposal.

By Chino S. Leyco
January 2, 2018