Philippines approves additional US$5.7b infrastructure projects

[MANILA] Philippine President Benigno Aquino approved on Monday road and railway projects worth about US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) under the government's Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme to upgrade the country's ageing infrastructure and boost economic growth.

Presiding over a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board meeting, Aquino gave the green light for four projects to be offered through tenders to investors, including the re-opening of bidding for the long-stalled 35.4 billion Philippine pesos Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax).

The country needs private funds to modernise its dilapidated infrastructure to attract more investments and boost long-term economic growth.

Aquino had decided to seek fresh bids for the Calax project after the disqualified top bidder, San Miguel Corp, appealed against the outcome of last June's tender.

Also up for bidding is the North-South Railway Project-South Line worth an estimated cost of 170.7 billion pesos, the biggest of the approved projects, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway worth 24.3 billion pesos.

The government also decided to seek bids for the NLEX-SLEX road Connector Project worth 20 billion pesos under a Swiss Challenge, where other bidders will be asked to compete for the project, with the original proponent allowed to match the best proposal.

Conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp had first sought to undertake the project seeking to connect provinces north and south of the capital Manila.

The NEDA Board also approved two others, the Panguil Bay Bridge Project and Phase 1 of the North-South Commuter Railway Project for a combined cost of 122.4 billion pesos, to be funded by the national budget and development loans.

In October, Aquino gave the go-ahead for a further US$3.7 billion worth of infrastructure development.

The Philippines is among the fastest growing economies in Asia and its credit rating has been raised to two notches above investment grade by Standard & Poor's and Moody's.

Despite robust economic growth, the Southeast Asian nation's foreign direct investment inflows are small compared with regional peers due to poor infrastructure, high power costs and foreign ownership restrictions on key industries.


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