PH set to begin $13-B worth of Japan-funded rail projects

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 22 2017 09:42 PM

Four high-profile infrastructure projects in the Philippines worth around P676 billion ($13.3 billion) and to be funded by loans from Japan are scheduled to start construction next year, including a subway system in Manila, Philippine officials said Tuesday.

Transportation undersecretary Cesar Chavez told a forum that the loan agreement for the P230-billion first phase of the subway project will be signed when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Manila in November for regional summits led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Chavez said construction of the 23-kilometer, 14-station subway is expected to be completed by 2024, but authorities are looking to see if five stations can be opened at an earlier date.

Also among the projects in which construction is set to begin in 2018 are three railway extension projects connecting Metro Manila to provinces north and south of the capital.

These include a P105-billion, 38-km track connecting Manila with Bulacan province, to its north, and P211-billion, 69-km track extending from there to adjoining Pampanga province.

On Manila's south side, a P130-billion, 72-km railway will connect it with the province of Laguna.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said that while negotiations with the Japanese side have yet to conclude, interest rates for the loans will likely stay significantly below 1 percent per annum.

Dominguez also said that there will be a likely grace period of seven to 10 years, depending on the project, while the payment period will range from 30 to 40 years.

The Philippine government is planning to spend $160 billion for infrastructure development during the six year-term of President Rodrigo Duterte, touting it as a golden age of infrastructure for the Southeast Asian country.

About 20 percent, or $32 billion, of that would be sourced from foreign lenders while the remainder would be sourced domestically.