Gov't wants 5 big-ticket projects done this year despite COVID-19 slowdown

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 28) – The government wants to complete five big-ticket infrastructure projects this year despite delays caused by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and chief executive officer Vince Dizon said the Cabinet economic cluster is currently recalibrating the "Build, Build, Build" pipeline to see which projects remain doable over the next three years.

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However, they maintained that some key projects will be delivered this 2020 despite months of limited or no operations due to the pandemic.

Among the projects that the economic team expects to complete this year are the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 project by December, the North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link, the new passenger terminal of the Clark International Airport by July, the extension of the Light Rail Transit line 2 to Rizal province, and the bridge connecting the Bonifacio Global City with the Ortigas business district.

Dizon, who also serves as Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs and Projects, said other projects are slated for completion next year: two new bridges across Pasig River, the Bicol International Airport, and the rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit line 3 by July.

Slated to open for partial operations also next year are the LRT-1 Cavite Extension project, MRT-7, and the Tutuban-Malolos segment of the Philippine National Railways.

Public and private construction projects have been allowed to resume even under enhanced community quarantine, provided that workers on site follow health standards such as social distancing, the wearing of masks, and live in company quarters to limit possible infections.

The government is pinning its hopes on the revival of construction activity to help lift the economy from the current slump, as most business and consumption activities have been restrained due to lockdown protocols.

Dizon said authorities will recalibrate the list of priority projects based on available funds from 2020 to 2022, how shovel-ready projects are as well as the capacity of agencies to implement, as well as the growth and job creation impact of these projects.

Other criteria include the interest and risk appetite of the private sector to take on the construction, as well as the inclusion of health and digital economy solutions to support the "new normal."

The Duterte administration earlier touted its term as the "Golden Age of Infrastructure," with plans to spend up to ₱8 trillion for big and small projects.