Build, Build, Build 'light-years ahead,' economist says

By Joann Villanueva

July 16, 2018, 9:34 pm

MANILA - - The Philippines’ journey towards becoming a first world country is further gaining ground as the Duterte administration pushes through with its ambitious infrastructure program, a noted economist said.

University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) co-founder and economist Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas said the current administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program is “light-years ahead” compared to the past governments in terms of implementation of infrastructure program.

“This administration has a great deal of absorptive capacity so that’s one thing that is very positive that you can say on the Duterte administration,” he said during the First Metro Investment Corporation’s (FMIC) midyear economic and capital markets briefing in Taguig City Monday.

The current government plans to invest around Php8 trillion until the end of its term in 2022 in its infrastructure program to ensure that necessary infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airports are built not only in major areas but most especially in the countryside like in Mindanao where it is greatly needed.

It has prioritized the hybrid type of funding wherein the government will use its own funds and tap official development assistance (ODA) to boost financing.

It also welcomes unsolicited proposals from the private sector to ensure financing not only for its 75 flagship projects but for others that are seen to provide job opportunities nationwide.

Villegas said it is more prudent for the government to focus on financing infrastructure project that does not have rate of return for itself per se like farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems and post-harvest facilities to uplift the lives of the farmers.

“Let the private sector build those projects that can give a decent return and those are airports, toll roads, LRTs and so on and so forth,” he said, citing that allowing private companies to finance these projects would allow the government to implement more.

With the resolve of the current administration to implement its massive infrastructure program Filipinos can expect to see positive outputs in the next few years, he said.

Villegas, however, stressed that this determination to put up the necessary infrastructure should be continued by future administrations.

“What (President) Duterte is doing is just the tip of the iceberg. We need the next 20 years, all our future presidents, to implement “Build, Build, Build” program for us to catch up with our neighbors,” he said.

“To become First World country we need world class infrastructure, world class universities and other educational institutions, and good governance,” he added. (PNA)