Fast-tracking development

233

As President Rodrigo Duterte’s term enters its third year today, the nation shifts its focus to the ambitious Build, Build, Build (BBB) program, with many of the projects still on the drawing board.

The Duterte administration aims to undertake projects in the next four years when the government intends to spend at least $100 billion for roads, ports, railways, flood control facilities, airports, energy facilities and irrigation systems.

But with time almost running out, the President wants to fast-track the implementation of the government’s infrastructure program which also aims to generate at least 2 million jobs by 2022.

In a speech in Davao, Duterte lamented that projects – especially in the provinces — are barely progressing unlike in Metro Manila. Thus, he wanted projects in ARMM and two other regions to step up.

“The President is never contented. He wants it fast and he wants the Build, Build, Build projects in the provinces implemented faster,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing in Davao City.

And while some of the projects are still awaiting fruition, millions of jobless and underemployed Pinoys still continue to pin their hopes on the BBB program.

The unprecedented infrastructure campaign of the government is seen to create an average of 1.1 million jobs annually, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), as the massive spending is being financed in part by proceeds of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

NEDA chief and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia is also urging government offices to coordinate with various industries to properly identify the appropriate skills for construction-related activities for job matching.

The reality is many Filipinos want the government and the private sector to create more well-paying local jobs and to stop depending on the manpower export industry.

Local jobs must offer competitive pay if the best Filipino workers, including our most experienced nurses, medical doctors, engineers and teachers, will be lured to work in the Philippines instead of looking for greener pastures overseas.

With a robust economy as evidenced by gross domestic product figures hovering around six percent, the Philippines is certainly in the right direction insofar as industrialization is concerned.

Another factor is the pledges made by countries like China which has so far given $307.41 million in soft loans and grants for two of the 75 flagship projects. The major projects will require a combined $36 billion in investments this year. The Chinese provided loans for the $234.92-million Kaliwa Dam project and the $72.49-million Chico River Pump Irrigation Facility project.

Earlier this year, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government had secured $7.3 billion in pledges from Beijing for 10 flagship projects.

That being said, the much needed infrastructure will make the economy self-sustaining and not end up again into a boom and bust cycle.