Japan offers financing for Manila-Clark railway: Dominguez

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2017 03:35 PM | Updated as of Jul 07 2017 02:25 PM

MANILA - Japan has offered to fund a P255-billion railway that will connect the capital's main air terminal to Clark International Airport, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said Thursday.

Filipino and Japanese officials are meeting in Manila this week to discuss how Japan can help President Rodrigo Duterte build P8 trillion in new infrastructure.

Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to strengthen their two nations' strategic during meetings in Manila and Tokyo since late last year.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency is also helping the Philippines design the first ever subway system in the capital.

The Department of Transportation recently unveiled five of the 17 stations of the Manila-Clark railway: Marilao, Meycauyan, Valenzuela, Caloocan, and Tutuban. The line, when finished, will include Tondo in Manila, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, Malolos, and Calumpit in Bulacan, Apalit, San Fernando, Angeles, Clark, and Clark International Airport in Pampanga, and New Clark City in Tarlac.

Construction of the railway system is expected to begin this year, and transportation officials hope it will be operational by 2020, one year ahead of JICA's projection.

Japan is offering a loan with low interest for the project, Dominguez said.

Public spending will pick up in the second half, Dominguez said after First Metro Investments Corp. trimmed its growth projection for the economy, citing slow moving government projects.

He also defended the government’s decision to forgo tap loans or official development assistance instead of purely private sector funding for infrastructure projects.

“[It] takes three years from the time you have the idea of a PPP to the time you start the project,” he said, referring to the public private partnership scheme.

“That’s why the last administration was only able to do four projects. Because the PPP process is very long. So, we have decided that we are going to start the project, okay, using our own funds… We know that we don’t have to go through the long negotiations for the PPP,” he said.