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Gov't shifts to ODA to fund 3 big-ticket infra projects

At least three big-ticket infrastructure projects will now be funded by official development assistance (ODA), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said Thursday.

The Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee (ICC-CC) approved the revisions in the funding of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project and North-South Railway Project-South Line, the NEDA said in a statement.

Previously slated to be financed by the national government, the $50-million Chico River Pump Irrigation Project covers the construction of a diversion dam and intake works along the Chico River.

It also includes the rehabilitation of an existing 1,400-hectare irrigation system and the construction of a drainage system.

Kaliwa Dam and the North-South Railway were supposed to be rolled out under the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative.

The P18.72-billion Kaliwa Dam involves the financing, design and construction of an additional raw water supply source.

The prequalified bidders for the project were SMC-K Water Consortium (San Miguel Holdings Corp. and Korea Water Resources Corp.), and the Abeima-Datem Consortium (Albeinsa Infraestructura Medio Ambiento S.A and Datem Inc.)

The North-South Railway aims to revive the national railway system for better transport and logistics services in underserved areas. The south line covers Metro Manila to Legazpi City in Albay Province.

Among those who signified interest for the project were San Miguel Holdings Corp., Metro Pacific Investment Corp., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., IL&FS Transport Networks Limited and Fluor Daniel Pacific Inc.

In February, Budget Secretary Benjamin M. Diokno in February said most of the P8.2-trillion needed to fund the "golden age of infrastructure" will largely come from tax revenue.

This year alone the government has allocated P860.7 billion for large-scale projects.

In the statement on Thursday, NEDA said the ICC-CC also approved a P2.5-billion threshold for infrastructure projects that must undergo a review before getting approved.

"Major capital projects costing at least P2.5 billion shall require ICC approval, except as otherwise provided by law," it said.

Prior to this, the scope of ICC review and decisions covered projects costing at least P1 billion.

"However, projects costing below P2.5 billion will still need certification that the project is consistent with the Philippine Development Plan ..." it said. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News