With 2 PPPs completed, expect more. Let’s just hope the pace would be faster as the current term of this administration is half way through and would need to do the most of the remaining time available.
The truth is that it is moving, although in an excruciatingly slow fashion.
Two years ago the fledgling Aquino administration trumpeted that it was going to launch the ambitious infrastructure program with more than 10 big-ticket projects costing hundreds of billions. Last we checked, however, only one project—the Nlex-Slex Connector Road—is up and running.
The good news is that at least two more projects have already gone past the drawing boards.
The Department of Education successfully bidded out work on the Public-Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) with an approved budget of P16.4 billion in the Ilocos provinces, Central Luzon and Calabarzon. The PSIP is a build-lease-transfer contract for the design, construction and maintenance of 9,301 classrooms in the three regions for a period of 10 years. Education Secretary Bro. Armin A. Luistro believes that with this PPP project, easing the classroom shortage is finally within reach, with over 20 million young Filipinos to benefit from access to quality education.
At the same time, the P60-billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) Cavite Extension Project is inching closely toward reality with the recent decision of the Department of Transportation and Communications to extend up to next month the submission of prequalification documents by interested bidders.
The railway project will extend the existing 20.7-kilometer LRT Line 1 system, which runs from Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City to Baclaran in Parañaque City, by an additional 11.7 kilometer southward to Bacoor, Cavite. Once completed, the new line is expected to increase ridership of LRT 1 from 500,000 to 700,000 passengers a day, thus providing faster and more convenient alternative to residents of Cavite, Las Piñas City and Parañaque City. The first half of the project is expected to be completed by late 2014 and the other half by late 2015. The project cost will be equally split between the private sector and the government.
Another ambitious development program is the Clark Special Economic Zone. While not listed under the PPP Program, the project is being pushed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. The agency has already commissioned the drafting of a master plan covering the development of the remaining 36,000 hectares of untapped land in Pampanga.
The new master plan for the Clark Ecozone is expected to set the pace of socioeconomic development in Central Luzon by transforming the area into a highly integrated, high-tech, green community—sort of Bonifacio Global City meets Silicon Valley amid lush greenery—and position Clark as the investment destination in Southeast Asia. The new city that will be built is seen to boost the national economy by attracting more investments and generating thousands of jobs for Filipinos. But one big question is how the planners will go around the geographic hurdle, since the Pampanga plains is highly vulnerable to flooding. Buildings on stilts and elevated roadways, perhaps?
In any event, the Aquino administration should now fast-track the implementation of various infrastructure development programs even as it pursues a vigorous campaign against corruption. The money saved from the grubby hands of the corrupt should be channeled to more projects that will benefit the economy and raise the people’s quality of life in the long run.