NEDA Board OKs 4 high-impact projects, plans

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

December 14, 2023, 8:20 pm

<p>National Economic and Development Authority director general Arsenio Balisacan.<em> (File photo)</em></p>

National Economic and Development Authority director general Arsenio Balisacan. (File photo)

MANILA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved four high-impact projects and plans, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA director general Arsenio Balisacan said Thursday.

Balisacan said the projects were approved in a meeting convened by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., also acting as chair of the NEDA Board, at Malacañan Palace in Manila.

The Dalton Pass East Alignment Road Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was among those approved during the meeting, Balisacan said.

Balisacan said the project is a 23-kilometer, four-lane alternative road to bypass the existing Dalton Pass in Central Luzon, particularly during road closures due to calamities.

It will connect Tayabo, San Jose, Nueva Ecija to Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya, and vice versa.

“With a cost of PHP67.4 billion and an expected completion by 2031, the project will facilitate the seamless transport of people and the delivery of essential goods and services within the region,” he said.

Tariff rates on commodities

Balisacan said the NEDA Board also endorsed the draft executive order (EO) on the temporary extension of Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rates on certain commodities under EO 10 issued in 2022.

He said the MFN tariff rates for pork, corn, and rice, will be extended until Dec. 31, 2024, based on the proposed EO.

“Thus, the tariff rates for pork will remain at 15 percent in-quota and 25 percent out-quota, corn at 5 percent in-quota and 15 percent out-quota, and rice at 35 percent both in-quota and out-quota for the extended period,” Balisacan said.

“The proposed extension of reduced tariffs will help ensure an adequate supply of agricultural commodities and maintain stable and affordable prices, thereby better managing potential inflationary pressures.”

Balisacan added that the NEDA Board also approved the recommendation of the Committee on Tariff and Related Matters to modify the review period for the tariff rate on coal from semestral to an annual basis, as well as to review tariff rates on pork, corn, and rice in a semestral basis.

He said the proposed EO would encourage alternative supply to diversify the country’s market sources.

Balisacan said it would also establish a forward-looking trade policy that would allow an “effective and timely” response for possible supply and price shocks triggered by the worsening African swine fever, anticipated impact of the El Niño, and continuous increases in global commodity prices.

High standard highway

Also confirmed by the NEDA Board is the DPWH’s second phase of the Master Plan on High Standard Highway Network Development, which aims to provide a higher quality HSH network for “faster, safer, more comfortable, more reliable, and environmentally friendly” road transport.

He said the master plan, which identifies around 53 Class-1 projects, would support the goals of rapid, inclusive, and sustained economic growth in the country.

“The master plan has identified 53 Class-1 projects that will be implemented in the short term to be completed by 2030, medium term to commence in 2030 and to be completed by 2035, and long term to commence in 2035 and be completed by 2045,” Balisacan said.

“These projects will support connectivity for economic growth and development, efficiency in reducing traffic congestion, environmental sustainability and social acceptability,” he added.

8-point action agenda

The NEDA Board similarly approved the 8-Point Action Agenda of the Department of Health's Medium-Term Strategy for the Health Sector from 2023 to 2028.

The action plan, he said, is aligned with the Philippine Development Plan and the Universal Health Care Program.

“This Action Agenda contains priority strategies for the health sector that are divided into three major parts dedicated for every Filipino, every community, and every health worker and institution in the country,” Balisacan said.

“It takes into consideration current health outcomes, lessons that can help improve our health system as exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling.”

The Mandanas-Garcia landmark case strengthened financial decentralization where local government have a just share of the tax collection of national government agencies.

PPP projects

Balisacan likewise gave updates on at least six previously approved public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

He said the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital Cancer Center Public-Private Partnership Project is currently undergoing procurement, while the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project is currently undergoing a Swiss challenge.

He said the contract for TPLEX Extension Project may be awarded in March, if there is no challenger, or in May 2024 if there is a challenger.

For the solicited proposal to rehabilitate, operate, expand, and transfer of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport PPP Project, the deadline for the bid submission for the project is on Dec. 27, Balisacan said.

Balisacan said negotiations between the Department of Transportation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the proponent were conducted from September to November 2023 for the upgrade, expansion and maintenance of the Laguindingan International Airport in Misamis Oriental.

“The award of the contract is expected to take place between May 2024 and February 2025,” he said.

Balisacan also noted that the bidding for the Dialysis Center PPP Project for the Renal Center Facility of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center is targeted to commence before yearend.

“Finally, this year is all about laying the groundwork and establishing the foundation to achieve our development goals. As we conclude this year, we are committed to sustaining our efforts to place vital programs and projects that will enhance connectivity, generate high-quality employment through investments, and significantly improve the living standards for every Filipino,” he said. (PNA)