BBB infra projects resume but must be ‘reprioritized’: Palace

BBB infra projects resume but must be ‘reprioritized’: Palace

MANILA – All infrastructure projects under the national government’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program will push through amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) but will be subject to “reprioritization,” Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“Tuloy naman po ang BBB. Kung meron pong mga pagbabago sa plano, it’s a matter of reprioritization or yung tinatawag nilang for future release (BBB projects have resumed. If there will be changes in the plan, it’s a matter or reprioritization or what they call for future release),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

The resumption of “Build, Build, Build” projects is seen as a solution to reboot the country’s economy that contracted for the first time in 22 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On June 16, Malacañang announced that the government is ready to resume all big-ticket projects under the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Some of the projects that have resumed are the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Harbor Link, the NLEX-SLEX Connector, the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, the R-1 Bridge Project, the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway Project and the Subic Freeport Expressway Project.

Loan agreements were also signed between the Department of Finance and Japan International Cooperation Agency for two flagship infrastructure projects — the PHP57-billion loan to support the Cebu-Mactan Fourth Bridge and the Coastal Road Construction in the Visayas and the PHP18.5-billion supplemental funding for the Davao City Bypass Construction Project.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), in its report called “We Recover as One, recommends the alignment of expenditure priorities in 2020 and 2021.

The NEDA report also calls for a review of the list of “Build, Build, Build” projects to give priority to crucial and shovel-ready projects, provide more space for relevant health-related expenditures, and improve the country’s digital infrastructure.

“Budget reprioritization may be needed to fund the PAPs (programs, activities, and projects) that are recommended to be implemented in 2020. PAPs that are to be implemented in 2021 will need to be included in the 2021 National Expenditure Program,” the report said.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), in its Memorandum 136 dated May 21, also seeks the review and reprioritization of the proposed 2021 budget towards containing the spread and mitigating the effects of Covid-19 outbreak.

For 2021, DBM suggests that there should be funding for road and transport projects under “Build, Build, Build” program.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano proposed on Tuesday that the “Build, Build, Build” program should be converted into a “Build Back Better Program,” which will focus on infrastructure spending for health, education, agriculture, local roads and livelihood, information technology and tourism sectors. (PNA)

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