MANILA, Philippines - The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board has approved five projects worth P146.9 billion, including the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway connector road project.
"All of these projects are meant to promote inclusive and rapid economic growth,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ricky Carandang said.
The P25.5 billion NLEX-SLEX connector road project was finally approved by the NEDA board, which is headed by President Aquino.
Instead of choosing between an unsolicited bid by Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. and the Skyway extension proposed by the San Miguel Citra Group, the government has allowed both companies to build their own roads.
The road projects would connect Makati City where the SLEX ends to Caloocan and Balintawak where NLEX starts. The projects are expected to be completed before the end of Aquino's term in 2016.
The two companies have agreed on the common alignment, a 5-kilometer road from Buendia, Makati to Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
The NEDA board also approved the P35.6 billion Cavite Laguna Expressway, which was approved in principle in the previous meeting. Now, it was approved in full based on the new costs, which is lower than the previous cost of P43 billion.
Carandang said adjustments in the specs lowered the cost of the public private partnership project which is expected to be completed in 2017.
"We varied the specs a little bit. For example, the embankments leading to the roads tend to be a little expensive. So binabaan ang height ng embankment—things like that, little adjustments like that, which actually added up to significant savings if you add them all up," Carandang said.
A dam and irrigation project worth P1 billion in the Pasa River, Isabela was also given the go-signal.
The NEDA board also changed the scope of the second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management project, which is worth P2.9 billion.
Carandang said the project “will have local government funding component to it.”
Also approved was the continuation of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service, a community-driven development project under the Department of Social Welfare and Development worth P81.9 billion. The project is expected to benefit 5.9 million families until 2018.
However, the approval for this project is “conditioned based on the monitoring of the progress.” The funding for this project will be through a mix of loans and government equity, according to Carandang.