DOF says P861B allotted for infra projects in 2017

]The Department of Finance said the administration of President Duterte will spend around P860.7 billion on large-scale infrastructure projects next year to keep its commitment to disperse growth and create enough jobs for Filipinos, especially in the countryside.

The budget infrastructure, the DOF added, will represent 5.4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

DOF Undersecretary Antonette Tionko told the members of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCCI) in its general membership meeting that the P860.7 billion is more than double compared to the annual infrastructure spending in the past administration or about P100 billion more than the 2016 outlay of P756.4 billion.

Of the total budget for infrastructure next year, Tionko said the Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC) has earmarked P355.7 billion to improve and build road networks, flood control systems, seaports, airports, school buildings, hospitals and health centers, and irrigation systems.

“The projects to be conceptualized from this initiative would then be considered for inclusion in the Philippine Development Plan for 2017 to 2022, which is now being consolidated by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),” she added.

She also emphasized that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who also sits as chair of the ICC, has given instructions to scale up and prioritize the development of infrastructure projects that would have an impact on areas outside of Mega Manila.

These areas of focus, she added, include the Cordillera Autonomous Region, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao, particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM.

Tionko also told the DCCCI members that planned big-ticket infrastructure projects in Mindanao will include the 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project; the modernization of the Davao Sasa Port; the expansion of the Francisco Bangoy (Davao) International Airport; the development of the Laguindingan Airport; Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network; and the Rural Road Development Program.

She added that the Duterte Administration has initially placed a premium on the improvement of the island-wide transportation infrastructure network to facilitate a faster, safer, more convenient and efficient transport of people and goods going in and out of Mindanao.

“At the same time, these investments are designed to be future-proof to avoid the horrendous traffic jams and airport congestion our brothers and sisters are experiencing almost daily in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas in the country,” she said.

Tionko also stressed that among the main concerns for Mindanao has always been the peace and order situation.

She however expressed confidence that peace and order in the island region will soon be addressed by the government, stakeholders, and concerned parties.

“When that happens, we expect investments in Mindanao to pick up significantly more in the coming years,” she said.

Speeding up Mindanao projects

Tionko also reported that the first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project, which starts from Davao heading to the eastern part of Mindanao toward Cagayan de Oro City, is expected to commence next year.

She added that Sasa Port will be developed into a modern and international-standard container terminal while the Davao International Airport will be expanded by doubling the capacity of the passenger terminal and cargo capacity to accommodate the fast-growing number of visitors to southern Mindanao.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is also reviewing the development of the Laguindingan Airport, which serves as the main airport of the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in northern Mindanao, through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

Initial allocation for the Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network that aims to facilitate travel across the regional growth corridors in the island-region has already been raised from P19.5 billion to P31.5 billion for next year to speed up the development of an integrated and seamless transport system that will be supported by inter-island linkage projects.

“These projects, and those that will be added to this list, are worthwhile endeavors that should help provide opportunities and uplift the lives of our people here in Mindanao once they come into fruition,” Tionko said.

She added that the goal of the Duterte administration in implementing these Mindanao initiatives and other large-scale infrastructure projects outside Mega Manila is to transform the country’s vibrant economy into a truly inclusive one.