Hike in right-of-way budget to ensure full use of Japanese loans, Diokno says
The Philippine government has increased its budget in the right-of-way (ROW) payments to fast-track the implementation of huge infrastructure projects, including those to be funded by Japan, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Wednesday.
In a press conference, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the hike in the ROW payments for big-ticket items aims to reduce bottlenecks in implementing infrastructure projects.
In the 2018 General Appropriations Act, the budget for ROW amounted to P34.9 billion, with the Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Transportation receiving P20.5 billion and P14.4 billion, respectively, DBM said.
The ROW appropriation for the two departments in 2015 was P4.2 billion, while in 2015, the amount surged to P32.6 billion.
“These indicators, combined with improved capacity to implement by line departments, will ensure that the loans extended by the Japanese government will be utilized to the fullest extent,” Diokno said.
The ROW is one of the issues usually being encountered in the implementation of foreign assisted projects. Japan is the Philippine top source of official development assistance.
In March 2016, Republic Act No. 10752, otherwise known as the Right-of-Way Act was signed to address the substantial delays caused by ROW issues perennially encountered by infrastructure projects across the country.
During the recent meeting between the Philippines and Japan in Cebu, both sides affirmed their commitment to streamline the approval process for infrastructure projects in the pipeline for Japanese loan and grant financing.
Diokno said in the same meeting, it was agreed to sign the loan agreement for the Metro Manila Subway Project next month.
He said Japan is also committed to provide funds for the Railway Institute to be established in Clark, Pampanga in a year or two to train the Filipinos how to manage and maintain railways.
Tokyo is also set to deliver next month the heavy equipment machinery to aid in rebuilding war-torn Marawi City, Diokno said.
While the government is eyeing to tap private contractor to rebuild Marawi, he said the equipment from Japan could also be used by military's engineering brigade in implementing other projects in Mindanao.
Japan has vowed to extend one trillion yen of assistance to the Philippines for five years until 2022. Celerina Monte/DMS