Swiss challenge, cost increase in two previously-approved projects confirmed

MANILA – In its meeting on December 16, 2015, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Benigno S. Aquino III, approved three new projects on transportation, agribusiness financing, improvement of prison facilities and marine environment monitoring.

First among the new projects approved is the Manila-Quezon Avenue Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). The project, which will be funded through official development assistance (ODA), involves the provision of a 12.3-kilometer segregated BRT from Quezon Memorial Circle to Manila City Hall. The project is part of the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas. The project’s total estimated cost is PhP4.79 billion and has an approximate implementation schedule from 2015-2017 with operation stating in 2018.

“These transport projects form part of the government’s master plan to interconnect areas in the country to make it easier and less costly to move people and goods across the country,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

Another project approved is the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System – Phase 2 of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR). The project aims to improve and expand PHILO Phase I, particularly Vessel Monitoring System of the DA-BFAR, and integration of various databases including fishing vessel registry, ocean and weather data, stock assessment data, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing records, among others.

Phase 2 is also dedicated to set up an integrated operational fisheries and marine environment monitoring center in the country that is interregional and interconnected with the main center. The project has a total estimated cost of PhP1.68 billion, which will be partly financed through ODA. The implementation schedule is over a period of four years.

Lastly, the Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities Through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship of the Land Bank of the Philippines was also approved. The program includes two components: a. Credit assistance of up to PhP11.43 billion for agribusiness activities, and b. Generate 21,700 employment during project implementation. It aims to finance agri-business-related investments to help improve peace and order in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. This will also be financed through ODA from the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the World Bank.

Meanwhile, the NEDA Board also approved to move forward with the Swiss challenge after DPWH’s negotiations with the original proponent for the previously-approved NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project. The approval was however, conditional on the proponent to agreeing to the lower project internal rate of return (IRR) of 10.87 percent instead of 12.09 percent, by lowering the opening tariff from Php100 to Php87.

This public-private partnership (PPP) project involves the construction of an eight-kilometer, four-lane toll road that will link the existing NLEX and SLEX, passing through Metro Manila and using the existing Philippine National Railway alignment as its route. The DPWH will implement the project, which has a total estimated cost of PhP23.2 billion and has a concession period of 35 years.

Also approved is the request for an additional PhP20 million for the Right-of-Way (ROW) and resettlement cost for the Department of Justice’s Regional Prison Facilities PPP project, increasing its cost to PhP50.20 billion. The project involves the financing, construction, and maintenance of a new prison facility that will have a capacity to accommodate 26,000 inmates with provisions for both men and women, ranging from minimum to maximum security. The project has a concession period of 20 years exclusive of a three-year construction period.