First, let me express my appreciation to the European Commission, the Government of Japan and the UN Office for Project Services for hosting this forum on “Promoting Quality Infrastructure.”
Second, though belated, I would like to commend the United Nations and all of us member nations, for including the issue of infrastructure development in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Philippine Government has identified Infrastructure Development as one of its bedrock strategies for sustainable development and inclusive growth. With rapid urbanization, an expanding population, unique archipelagic landscape, and the need to enhance resiliency to address various risks and vulnerability, the country requires sectorally and spatially- distributed infrastructure investments that can support higher growth and improve the quality of life among its people.
A major strategy in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 is to increase public infrastructure investment from 5.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 to at least 7.3 percent of GDP by 2022.
Moreover, the PDP espouses a national spatial strategy (NSS) that is based on three principles: (i) maximize agglomeration economies of the metropolitan centers, (ii) foster connectivity between the metropolitan centers and settlements, and (iii) reduce the vulnerability of the metropolitan centers and the settlements. These principles are observed during the formulation of various master plans that provide the coherence of the various component infrastructure projects. These include the Philippine Transport Systems Master Plan, the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Master Plan and the Philippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan.
Given these, the country’s Public Investment Program 2017-2022 for accelerating infrastructure development identified almost 5,00 infrastructure programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) in transportation, water, energy, information and communications technology (ICT), social and other public infrastructure, with total investment requirement of USD143.3 billion. These consist of 98 inter-regional and 4,231 region-specific projects. There are also 75 high impact infrastructure projects that represent the major capital undertakings envisaged to stimulate growth centers outside the urban-industrial region centered around Metro Manila. We have referred to this accelerated infrastructure program as “Build, Build, Build.”
Meanwhile, cognizant of the country’s vulnerability to disaster and climate change, measures were put in place to ensure resilient infrastructure facilities. There is emphasis on quality-cost based evaluation procedures and value engineering – value analysis (VE/VA) techniques to ensure robust infrastructure and the best use of resources. Moreover, the adoption of green building technologies will be promoted.
Procedures for evaluation of projects have also become more inclusive with the integration of the Harmonized Gender and Development Guidelines to ensure the gender-responsiveness of projects.
Even as we accelerate public infrastructure investments, we remain vigilant about the fiscal sustainability of these efforts. In addition to the rigid evaluation procedures, we have also put in place measures to enhance coordination amongst government agencies – in charge of right-of-way acquisition, securing of necessary permits, approval of work orders, etc. so as to facilitate project implementation. There is also the matter of increasing domestic resource mobilization and observing fiscal discipline.
Yes, just like any of the other 16 goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, promoting quality infrastructure requires a comprehensive and concerted effort. Together, we can build, build, build.