Newly-confirmed Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said on Wednesday that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved 80 percent of the national government’s 112 priority infrastructure projects since 2016.
Chua told the Senate at his confirmation hearing that the government was “moving fast” with relation to its Build Build Build program.
“Of the 112, 80 percent actually has already been approved by the NEDA Board,” he said.
Fifty-one of the projects that were approved were in the building stage, while 31 were in the pre-construction stage, according to Chua. The Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) was processing another 17, four were pending feasibility studies, and nine were with implementing agencies.
Several LRT expansions, bus transits, expressways, and the Mindanao railway are among the “already moving” projects, according to the NEDA chief.
Chua said that the government is dedicated to properly assess all proposed projects to ensure their viability.
“For approval of projects, we of course have to be mindful of the mandate of the Investment Coordination Committee and that is to ensure that all the projects are well-designed, the proponents are financially capable, and that they will not add to future burden to the people in terms of payments or contingent liability. So that is why the ICC-NEDA process is a very rigorous one,” he added.
“And if there are incomplete submissions, unfortunately, according to the law and IRR (implementing rules and regulations), we have to return those submissions until they are complete so that we can see the whole picture when we approve such projects,” Chua said.
From this year’s P4.50-trillion national budget, the infrastructure program received P1.12 trillion, or 5.4 percent of GDP, Chua also mentioned.
“The budget that we have right now has P1.12 trillion worth of infrastructure and I understand the one (2022 national budget) that we are proposing to Congress will continue that level.”
According to the latest figures from the Budget department, the government’s infrastructure and capital expenditures increased by 41.1 percent to P87.8 billion in March over the previous year. In the meantime, it was up 56.4 percent from February.
In the first quarter, disbursements increased by 25.1 percent to P195.2 billion, compared to the same period last year.
BY MEYNARD DELA CERNA