Group on infrastructure hurdles formed

Posted on Nov 03, 2017

The Government has formed an interagency group “to address bottlenecks and gaps in the country’s infrastructure development,” the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday.

A statement quoted Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, who heads NEDA as director-general, as saying the Project Facilitation, Monitoring and Innovation Task Force — formed by the Sept. 1 NEDA-Department of Finance (DoF)-Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2017-01 — “will institute policies and processes” in order to address problems that have held back flagship infrastructure projects.

The task force’s steering committee will be co-chaired by NEDA and DoF and will consist besides of DBM, the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The task force will recommend government-wide measures to solve implementation problems and improve coordination, among others.

NEDA Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan said in a text message that this latest move aimed “to support the ramping up of infra[structure] investments.”

The current government had earlier moved to speed up approval of major projects by cutting to 12 members from 22 originally the composition of the NEDA Board and by raising cost floor of projects for the socioeconomic planner’s scrutiny to P5 billion from P1 billion.

The World Bank earlier this month cut its growth forecast for the Philippines amid “slower-than-expected implementation of public investment projects.”

For John D. Forbes, senior adviser of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, the government can do more by reviving public-private partnerships (PPP). “Perhaps if some more large… projects like the LRT (Light Rail Transit)-6 and East-West subway are advanced as PPP projects no one will suggest there is any slowdown,” he said via text when sought for comment.

Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan | Business World