DPWH vows yearend bidding for 2013 road projects ahead of rainsBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — Realizing the work up ahead as the downpour continues to damage roads across the country, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) vowed to bid out all infrastructure projects for 2013 by December so these could be finished before the next round of rains begin next year.
Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the finance committee, said the “innovation” was spurred by complaints that road projects were done during the rainy months instead of during the summer.
DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said the National Expenditure Program assured that the bidding process for infrastructure projects would be shortened so that the department could begin accepting bids for projects as early as January based on the General Appropriations Act of 2013 to be approved by Congress.
“In this manner, we will be able to commence these projects during summer months,” Drilon said.
He added that the hastened process would also become necessary since the awarding of infrastructure projects was prohibited during an election period. The Philippines will hold its mid-term national elections in May.
“We don’t want to be caught in the ban of awards of infrastructure projects. These are the innovations being done in order to address these bottlenecks in our infrastructure program,” Drilon explained.
The DPWH is allotted with P152.9 billion in 2013 to build roads, bridges, ports and airports.
In a briefing given to senators by top economic managers Monday, director general Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic Development Authority mentioned the slow delivery of infrastructure projects as among the “bottlenecks” that hamper economic growth in the country.
“Severe bottlenecks in infrastructure impede competitiveness,” Balisacan said in the briefing by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee in the Senate. Balisacan added there was also a need to:
*invest massively in human capital through improved health and education services to allow Filipinos to compete with workers and professionals from other Asian countries;
* inspire transparency, accountability and anti-corruption efforts to attract investments; and
* bolster the agriculture sector to keep productivity at par with Asian neighbors and also pay more attention to the “sorry and neglected” manufacturing and industrial sectors.
“Our economy is like that of advanced countries in terms of high dependence on services. But we should also have developed industries. We have to deepen our base in manufacturing,” Balisacan explained.
Drilon noted that the proposed 2013 budget has the highest allocations for social services.
“On top of the list would be the Department of Education with P292.7 billion allocations – the highest in the entire bureaucracy – which includes the budget for school buildings,” he said.
The Department of Health will get a budget of P56.8 billion next year, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development will have P56.2 billion in 2013.
“All of these would now address the need to develop our human capital. We have a very talented people; unfortunately, because of inadequacy in our investment in our people, we lagged behind in terms of our educational attainment and in preparing our youth for the future,” Drilon said.