Business & Economy

Gov’t to fast-track subway plan

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Economic managers are expected to approve today a higher project costfor the first subway system in the country to fast-track its completion, the country’s chief economist said.

On the sidelines of the House plenary debates on the proposed P3.767-trillion 2018 national budget Monday, Sept. 4 Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer that the National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) would discuss the project before forwarding it for the approval of the Neda Board chaired by President Duterte on Sept. 12.

Separately, Neda Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan told the Inquirer that the final project cost would be firmed up during the Neda ICC-CabCom meeting.

Pernia earlier said that to allow completion of the Mega Manila Subway Project Phase 1 in 2022 instead of the previous target of 2024, the initial project cost of $4.4 billion could rise to $6-7 billion.

In June, Pernia disclosed to the Inquirer that the government was looking at securing the biggest official development assistance (ODA) from Japan for the subway system that would serve Metro Manila and surrounding areas.

Pernia had said that an estimated $4.4 billion in ODA from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) was in the pipeline to finance the Mega Manila subway project.

The Neda chief had said that they were expecting below 1-percent interest for the Jica loan payable over 20 years with a 15-year grace period.

According to the government’s “Build, Build, Build” website, the Department of Transportation-led subway project will connect major business hubs as well as government centers in Metro Manila through a 25-kilometer underground mass transportation system connecting Quezon City and Taguig City.

Meanwhile, the Department of Finance also yesterday enjoined local government units (LGUs) to tap a P2.58-billion revolving facility for projects to be undertaken through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

“The Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF) can be utilized not only by LGUs but other national government agencies as well for fund support in conducting prefeasibility and feasibility studies, project structuring, preparation of bid documents and project monitoring for their proposed PPP initiatives,” the DOF said in a statement.

“Managed by the PPP Center, the PDMF also provides probity advisory services to ensure fairness, accountability and transparency in the procurement process for PPP projects,” the DOF added.

The PDMF started with a P300-million revolving fund and a $6-million (approximately P300 million) initial contribution from the Australian government. The Australian grant is administered by the Asian Development Bank. The fund has since grown to about P2.58 billion as of end-July, according to the DOF, citing a recent report by the Privatization Office to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III. – Inquirer.net

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