Gov’t to spend P8 trillion for infrastructure projects
“Build, build, build” is the battlecry of the Duterte administration as it intends to ramp up infrastructure spending to the tune of P8 trillion in the next five years, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Cabinet members on Thursday called on Congress to grant President Duterte emergency powers on transportation projects as they presented the administration’s planned infrastructure program to spur development and ease traffic congestion in the country.
Without the emergency powers, the projects, which include new roads, bridges, railways, and the improvement of airports, will be delayed, Tugade said.
“Is the population willing to wait some more?” he said at a press briefing in Malacañang.
The emergency powers being sought for the President would allow him to conduct selective bidding, direct contracting, or negotiated procurement for materials or services for projects intended to deal with the transport problem.
The bill that would authorize these powers would also bar lower courts from issuing temporary restraining orders or injunctions against the projects. Only the Supreme Court would be given the authority to issue such an order.
Tugade allayed fears that the emergency powers would lead to corruption.
He said a freedom of information portal would be put up so that the public could track the progress of the projects. “We shall be transparent and we shall be accountable,” he said.
Joining Tugade in his call for emergency powers are Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and Bases Conversion Development Authority president Vince Dizon.
‘Golden age’ for infra
The projects are intended to spur development, create jobs, deal with road and traffic problems and high prices.
“We need the emergency power to expedite … . If they would not give it, we will do what we believe needs to be done, but there will be delays,” Tugade said.
Pernia said the administration would be the “golden age for infrastructure,” and once the projects are rolled out, work would be done 24/7.
“We have been lagging behind our Asean neighbors even Asian neighbors as well and so the infrastructure deficit is so huge that we really have to double time, triple time to even approach parity with the infrastructure level of our neighbors in Asia,” Pernia said.
But he advised the public to manage expectations.
Pernia said there would be inconveniences first while the projects were being undertaken.