Secretary of Budget Benjamin Diokno said priority projects in Mindanao are planned for construction starting this year or early 2018 include the bridge that links Davao City and Samal Island and the Mindanao Railway System, a report by BusinessWorld said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Mindanao Trade and Investment Forum at Marco Polo Davao March 31, Diokno said the Davao-Samal bridge will commence its construction later this year.
The forum, organized by the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines, was also attended by British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad, members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and representatives of the Mindanao Development Authority.
Sec. Diokno said the source of funds and feasibility study of the bridge is being finalized. He admitted that the project was not the priority of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, but the former Davao City Mayor told them to proceed with it.
Mindanao Railway System, the first of its kind in the island, will have its first phase of the project covering 100 kilometers and construction by the fourth quarter of this year or early 2018.
Funding for the railway project will come from the Official Development Assistance and constructed through a public-private partnership agreement. Once completed, the railway system will connect major cities in Mindanao including Davao, Zamboanga, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and General Santos, spanning some 2,000 kilometers of railroad tracks.
Sec. Diokno also disclosed that bridges linking Mindanao to Luzon are being planned, with proposed connections between Sorsogon – Northern Samar and Leyte – Surigao.
For this year, the Philippine government has allocated almost P900 billion, or about 5.3% of gross domestic product, the highest in 30 years.
“The last time we hit the benchmark of 5% of GDP for infrastructure spending was more than 30 years ago. In fact, for the last 30 years we have only been spending 2% to 3% of GDP for public infrastructure,” he noted. However, he said the amount is just a small portion of the proposed P8 trillion and P9 trillion intended for public infrastructure during the entire of President Duterte’s term.
Funding assistance of $9 billion each from China and Japan are already available, he said.
Mr. Diokno said the funding for infrastructure will be complemented by the implementation of reforms to ensure that resources are translated to concrete projects.