Infra projects to fuel faster economic recovery
Fast-tracking the rollout of big-ticket infrastructure under the ambitious “Build, Build, Build,” or BBB—including those benefiting Northern Luzon—will be key to immediate recovery from the COVID-19-induced recession, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Thursday.
“The cornerstone of our economic recovery is the Build, Build, Build program. Investments in infrastructure have the highest multiplier effect in the economy. We have to continue to prioritize the infrastructure program to immediately create jobs, encourage investments, and increase economic activity,” Dominguez told the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s North Luzon area business conference.
Northern Luzon stands to benefit from many of these projects, Dominguez said, adding that “the area is one of the centerpieces of the Build, Build, Build program.”
The economic team had expanded the Build, Build, Build pipeline to 105 projects worth a total of P4.1 trillion to include infrastructure needed under a COVID-19 “new normal,” such as health, information and communications technology, as well as water facilities.
In turn, the government removed some projects that were still in their early planning stages while prioritizing shovel-ready infrastructure.
Dominguez cited New Clark City’s initial phase that hosted last year’s Southeast Asian Games, whose “world-class sports facilities and an athletes’ village will serve as the national training center for Filipino athletes for many years to come.”
He also cited the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway’s final segment that opened last month, cutting travel time from Manila to Baguio by half to three hours.
Two more projects—the Central Luzon Link Expressway and Clark International Airport—will be completed soon, Dominguez added.
Once finished by the end of the year, the 30-kilometer expressway connecting Tarlac and Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija province will cut travel time to 20 minutes from 70 minutes at present, Dominguez said.
The 99.8-percent completed Clark airport, meanwhile, will “help clear the congestion that plagues the Manila airport and anchor the rapid development of Central and Northern Luzon and other districts of Clark, which we expect to become the next investment center in Asia,” according to Dominguez.
Another big-ticket infrastructure project in Northern Luzon is the first phase of the North-South Commuter Railway connecting Tutuban, Manila and Malolos, Bulacan province, which Dominguez said was 40-percent completed to date.
“These developments underpin the commitment of the Duterte administration to move ahead with our Build, Build, Build program even amid the global health and economic crisis brought about by this contagion. These investments will primarily fuel our plan to quickly and smoothly get back to our growth trajectory upon the defeat of COVID-19,” Dominguez said.