TPLEX EXTENSION. National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan attends a Palace briefing after the NEDA Board meeting in Malacañang on Friday (June 2, 2023). Balisacan said the Board approved the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway Extension Project. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project.

The NEDA Board gave its nod to the proposed PHP23.4-billion TPLEX Extension Project when Marcos convened a meeting at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Friday afternoon, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan said in a Palace briefing.

"The NEDA Board has approved the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway or TPLEX Extension Project. In accordance with the Investment Coordination Committee guidelines, this is the fastest unsolicited proposal approval, from its submission on March 17, 2023 to the approval today, June 2, 2023," he said.

The proposed four-lane, 59.4-kilometer project will extend the TPLEX from Rosario to San Juan, La Union.

Balisacan said the TPLEX Extension Project would spur economic activity in Northern Luzon as it would facilitate connectivity to the Ilocos Region, Central Luzon and Metro Manila

"This is expected to stimulate economic activity, alleviate road congestion, provide better and safer road access, and promote the development of new growth centers in nearby regions," he said.

Balisacan said the TPLEX Extension Project would be implemented through a public-private partnership (PPP) under the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Other flagship projects

During the meeting, the NEDA Board also reviewed the first progress report on the Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) under the Marcos administration’s "Build, Better, More" Program, Balisacan said.

Balisacan noted that around 68 of the 194 IFPs are currently ongoing, 25 have been approved for implementation, nine are awaiting government approval and the remaining projects are either in the process of project preparation or pre-project preparation.

"To recall, these high-impact infrastructure projects are designed to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit, thereby, driving sustainable economic growth across priority sectors of our economy. In total, the IFPs have an estimated cost of PHP8.3 trillion," he said.

Guidelines on LGUs' PPP proposals

Balisacan said the NEDA Board also confirmed the Investment Coordination Committee's (ICC) Guidelines for local government units' (LGUs) PPP Projects that require the committee's action under the Build-Operate-Transfer Law.

"The guidelines outline the role of the Regional Development Councils and other local development councils, particularly in ensuring that LGU projects are in line with national development plans," he said.

"Recognizing the vital role of LGUs in driving economic growth, the guidelines provide a streamlined process for LGUs to pursue PPP projects that require the action by the ICC. This initiative aims to empower LGUs and enable them to effectively engage in PPPs that will promote local development and attract investments," Balisacan added.

Rural development project

Balisacan said the NEDA Board also noted its earlier confirmation and referendum of the ICC approval of the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Scale-Up.

He said the PRDP Scale-Up, estimated to cost PHP45.01 billion, aims to build on the successes of the original PRDP.

"Its goal is to further enhance agricultural productivity, increase income opportunities, and improve the living conditions of rural communities throughout the country," Balisacan said. "Through this project, the government aims to empower farmers and fisherfolk, strengthen value chains, and promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth by institutionalizing new environmental and social safeguards frameworks and protocols."

Balisacan said the Marcos administration remains steadfast in its resolve to pursue projects that are in line with its eight-point socioeconomic agenda and the strategies identified in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028.

"We are committed to implementing initiatives that will promote inclusive growth, induce high-quality job creation, and greatly improve living standards for all Filipinos," he said. (PNA)