The recent Dutertenomics forum which assessed the economic policies under Rody, came up with quite an impressive showcase, including plans for a total of P3.6 trillion worth of projects under the so-called three-year rolling infrastructure plan (TRIP) until 2020.
Among the more ambitious projects that were unveiled was Mega Manila Subway Project which is coming soon as the President and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to sign in November an agreement for the project’s funding.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said the construction of the first subway is set to start by the fourth quarter of 2019 and completed by 2024 at a cost of P227 billion.
The subway project will traverse 25 kilometers underground to link major business districts and government centers and is expected to move 300,000 passengers daily.
The first phase of the subway system will traverse Quezon City to Taguig City with 13 stations. The subway’s proposed stops are: Mindanao Avenue, North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, East Avenue, Anonas, Katipunan, Ortigas North, Ortigas South, Kalayaan, Bonifacio Global City, Cayetano Boulevard, Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Its feasibility study which is being conducted with the help of a grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency is expected to be completed by July and will be presented to the government.
Under the proposal, the subway would start from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, to Dasmariñas City, Cavite. The study focuses on the central zone of the subway starting from Quezon City to FTI.
Secretary Tugade did not say if this was the same subway that the “tuwid na daan” folks of Noynoy tried to rush during the twilight period of the previous administration but costing P374 billion or an overprice of P147 billion.
Budget Secretary Ben Diokno said the entire infrastructure program until the end of Rody’s term amounts to around P8 trillion to P9 trillion.
That means spending on vital projects of about P1.5 trillion a year which is already evident with the many road developments happening at the moment.
He said this program would be partly funded by borrowings, 80 percent of which to come from domestic fund sources while the balance of 20 percent sourced overseas.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said that in the decades when the government neglected the infrastructure buildup while neighbors in the region rapidly built up theirs, “we lost out on competitiveness.”
The “tuwid na daan” regime was noted for underspending the budget which, as it turned out, was recycling public funds for a slush fund named Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Nobody knows the extent of the DAP, but some estimates put it at more than P200 billion until it was stopped in 2014 when the Supreme Court ruled that Palace actions that created it were unconstitutional.
The economy suffered while the yellow mob feasted under Noynoy.
The neglect was particularly debilitating for the country due to its archipelagic nature.
Lack of infrastructure raises the costs of transporting goods between islands, Dominguez said.
“That is the reason our food price regime is high. Our congested roads and ports discouraged investors who need to operate on just-on-time deliveries. Our high power costs and unstable supply discouraged investments in manufacturing,” he added.
It is infrastructure where the country should begin rebuilding its competitiveness, Dominguez said.
The rebuilding is happening under the “happy conjuncture of low interest rates, market liquidity, a benign oil price regime, the strong support of countries like China and Japan, an investment-grade credit rating and a young and vigorous labor force.”
Add to that a leader with a strong political will and has a clear vision on what he wants to do.