Good morning to all members of the media.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to report on the accomplishments of our agency, the National Economic and Development Authority, over the first 50 days under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Guided by the 0+10 agenda of the President, we are carrying on with macroeconomic policies, but ramping up infrastructure spending, promoting regional and rural development, and investing in human capital development. In the first 50 days, I can say that we are on the right track and at a faster pace to make sure we reach our goals.
Allow me to just highlight a number of important areas: accelerating infrastructure development projects, revisiting agricultural and rural development policies, and innovations in development planning.
First, we have moved quickly to implement reforms to accelerate infrastructure development. The Investment Coordination Committee or ICC has so far approved 10 projects with a total of PhP320 billion in project costs. The NEDA Board, chaired by the President, will take up these projects for approval in September and implementation by concerned agencies thereafter. The list includes projects on rural development, regional hospitals, airport modernization, flood management, the North-South Railway – South Line project, and the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit on EDSA project, among others.
Likewise, NEDA, through the Infrastructure Committee or InfraCom, has directed prioritizing the completion of Mindanao Railway Project’s initial phase. The project will be implemented in 2017 once approved by the NEDA Board within the year. The InfraCom has also specified measures to urgently address Metro Manila’s traffic crisis and decongest the city. One such measure is the immediate implementation of the Bonifacio Global City – Ortigas link bridge, which is expected to divert 25 percent of EDSA traffic. Another is the early resolution of the Common Station for MRT 3, LRT 1, and MRT 7. The Department of Public Works and Highways will hand the final configuration of the station to the Department of Transportation. As well, the InfraCom has urged the use of the Batangas and Subic ports to decongest the Manila ports.
The InfraCom has also identified measures to address institutional, legal, and policy issues in relation to infrastructure programs. Part of the legislative agenda to be submitted to the LEDAC to convene in September or October, are the following:
- Creation of an apex or superbody for the Water Resources Sector, proposed to be the Water Resources Department or Authority;
- Creation of an independent economic and financial regulator for the Water Sector;
- The National Transport Policy;
- Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer or BOT Law and its IRR,
- Amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act; and
- Amendments to the Water Code of the Philippines.
Another important reform to accelerate infrastructure development is the streamlining the process of investment programming. NEDA has recently launched an online database system and streamlined the project approval process. In line with the updating of the Core Investment Program, the Public Investment Program Online system or PIPOL was launched to allow agencies to submit automatically online their data entries, updates, and reports on their priority programs and projects.
For the ICC approval and appraisal process, NEDA has raised the project cost floor from PhP1 billion to PhP5 billion and updated the Social Discount Rate to 10 percent from 15 percent. Also, other reform initiatives on the process are currently proposed to fast-track the appraisal and approval process while still ensuring the quality of infrastructure projects.
Moreover, we are revisiting policies on agriculture and rural development, which have lagged behind amid consistent economic growth NEDA has continued to monitor the status of previous programs on rice and the effects of El Nino to make sure that there will be no shortage of food and no spikes in the price of rice, which tend to impact heavily on the poor, and other food items. We have been monitoring rice production and consumption, to determine whether and when to import, given risks of La Niña and other weather disturbances.
Finally, I am pleased to share with you NEDA’s innovation in planning, through AmBisyon Natin 2040, the long-term vision of the Philippines. This continues to gain traction since its launch in March 2016. We have been receiving very positive feedback and support from various stakeholders to whom we have reached out through numerous briefings, presentations, and consultations. Apart from government, international development partners, civil society, and private sector, we have been engaging the youth through extensive use of social media and other forms of new media. Through Facebook alone, we have already reached 14.3 million users in only four months. In face to face interactions, the support has been overwhelming, and we are pleased that our aim to make to AmBisyon Natin 2040 a basis for unity among Filipinos is being achieved. Also important is the support we are getting to make this long-term vision an anchor for development planning across administrations, whereby a plan is built on the previous plan, thereby ensuring sustainability of development initiatives with long-term goals in mind, and thus safeguarding against drawbacks of having plans bound by the terms of political administrations.
To further cement the long-term vision in the country’s development priorities, NEDA has recently submitted a draft Executive Order adopting the long-term vision as guide in crafting the next Philippine Development Plan. The PDP 2017-2022 framework is already taking shape, taking into account both the Duterte administration’s 0-10 point agenda and the long-term vision.
The planning process is now underway, with the drafting of the framework, outline, and list of Planning Committees and Subcommittees for the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022. The planning guidelines for the PDP formulation are also already drafted, which will inform agencies on the priority areas in each sectors that they will work on. Furthermore, we will continue the efforts of strongly linking the planning and budgeting process to ensure the sustainability of priority programs and projects.
We have also been consulting with different stakeholders to disseminate the proposed framework for the PDP 2017-2022 and to obtain inputs for the Plan. The consultation ensures that there would be inputs coming from a broad cross section of our society.
We have also been presenting the platform of government as well as our long-term vision for the country in international fora, like in the UN and APEC meetings. Concerning the APEC, in particular, we are making sure that the priorities we have identified during our hosting year are being followed through. In addition, we are introducing our new priorities of balancing growth opportunities across regions and socioeconomic classes in the APEC agenda.
These are just some of what we have done meaningfully in our first 50 days in NEDA under the Duterte administration. We have hit the ground running and we intend to do much more, in collaboration with other agencies, development partners, and key stakeholders. We trust that in the next 50 days, we can mobilize more people and resources to accomplish even more and continue improving our processes that will benefit the Filipino people, especially the poor and those left behind.
Salamat at magandang umaga ulit sa inyong lahat.