THE Office of the Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects yesterday dismissed Sen. Franklin Drilon’s assessment that the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program is a “dismal failure.”
Vince Dizon, concurrent Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and chief executive officer, said flagship infrastructure projects under the BBB program have been revised and has increased to 100 from the 75 listed in 2016.
The revised list of projects was set to be submitted to the Senate on Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, however, the office of Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said it has yet to receive any submission from Dizon’s office.
Dizon said the economic team of the President reviewed the infrastructure program when the Duterte administration reached its third year.
The review, he said, was to “rationalize” the plans and determine which among the projects will address the most urgent needs of the people and cover the entire country, if not almost all parts of the country.
Dizon said another reason is to determine the completion dates of the projects since many of them are expected to be finished beyond President Duterte’s term. In such cases, he said, “we must begin now.”
“It’s the halfway term of the President and we want to be able to do more and we want to be able to fast-track and even speed up the infrastructure program in the second half of the term of the President, and we wanted to rationalize them. Because you know, infrastructure projects are not easy to do. They require a lot of planning; they require long and very tedious feasibility studies; detailed planning and it takes time,” he added.
Dizon said of the identified 100 flagship projects, some of which will be undertaken under a public-private partnership arrangement, 35 are now ongoing, while 32 others will start construction in the next six to eight months.
He said 21 of the projects are now in the in the advance stages of government approval or have already been approved by the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) but still requires some additional requirements, while 12 are in advanced stages of feasibility study.
Dizon said there were some projects that were discovered that, despite the initial feasibility research, were “not yet feasible now” and requires further study. There were also some projects that failed to meet the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) threshold economic rate of return.
“Meaning, if a project does not have an economic rate of return of 10 percent or higher, we won’t implement it. Why, because we don’t want to build white elephants. We don’t want to build something that is not yet feasible as of this time. They could be feasible later on, but not yet as of this time. So, we had to revisit and put in projects that are urgent that we can already start now,” he explained.
Dizon said that of the 100 identified projects, the government expects that 38 of will be completed by the end of the President’s term, 22 will be partially operational or substantially completed, while 40 will be completed beyond 2022 or after Duterte’s term.
He said the 40 projects, however, needs to be started now and continued by the next administration, similar to what Duterte has done when he assumed the presidency – he continued some of the projects that had been introduced or started under the different administrations before him.
Dizon also denied that the administration had been slow in the implementation of the infrastructure program and the spending on infrastructure, claiming that the administration had already spent around P1 trillion.
He said the Duterte government, however, is not satisfied and wants to do more and accomplish as much projects as it can.
“I just want to emphasize the point: Is Build, Build, Build a failure? Absolutely not, and the number speaks for themselves. Construction is up; public spending on infrastructure is up, and this has led to faster economic growth. (But) are we happy with the progress? We could do better, and we admit that,” he said.
Dizon did not provide an exact figure as to how many of the “thousands” of BBB programs had actually been completed but named some of the projects that had already been finished under the Duterte government.
He said most of these infrastructure projects were actually started during the Arroyo and Aquino administrations while only one was started and completed during the incumbent administration.
The completed projects include the Cagayan De Oro passenger terminal that was started and completed by the Duterte administration; the Governor Miranda Bridge in Davao Del Norte; the Laguna Lake Highway; the Pigalo Bridge in Isabela; the Communications Naval Action/Air Traffic Management (CNSATM); and the Clark City Phase 1-A.