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NEDA ICC to finalize P15-T projects up for Marcos approval this week

The Cabinet level of the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) is set to meet this week to finalize a list of some P15-trillion worth of projects that will be presented to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. next month.

According to National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, the ICC Cabinet Committee (ICC-CabCom) meeting will establish the list that will include the eventual flagship projects of the current administration.

“That list is quite a big number of projects, tentatively or indicatively talking about 3,700 projects worth P15 trillion in the medium term,” he said during the Makati Business Club’s F2F with Cabinet secretaries.

Balisacan said some 190 of the projects are tentatively set to be undertaken through public-private partnership (PPP), of which 98 are already in the pipeline estimated to be worth P3 trillion.

The final list will then be taken up by the NEDA Board Executive Committee — chaired by the President — when it meets in two weeks’ time on March 9.

“Hopefully the President will approve that. It’s bearing the entire list and we have already identified what are likely PPP, but we are open to accommodating any of those as candidates for PPP,” Balisacan said.

The list also includes projects which were prepared by earlier administrations, as well as those that were returned to the proponents, which Balisacan said should be accepted if they satisfy the standards of the current administration.

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon earlier this month said the Marcos administration has already identified some 206 big-ticket projects under its infrastructure program, but these are still being evaluated for viability.

In October, Marcos encouraged the private sector to take part in PPPs with a P2.25-trillion project pipeline, signaling a shift from the previous administration which preferred projects done under Official Development Assistance (ODAs).

“I think that tapping the private capital is the way to go, largely because government has no money. We have very limited resources,” Balisacan said Thursday.

“The fiscal space is very narrow because a lot of the responses to the pandemic have raised the level of debt high. While some say that we have enough space, personally I don’t think so,” he added.

Latest data available from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed that the national government’s outstanding debt stood at P13.42 trillion as of end-2022, bringing the debt-to-GDP ratio to 60.9%, above the target of 61.8%.

“The only way we can sustain massive infrastructure development both physically and socially is to get the private sector, which I’m aware is awash with capital. But we also have to bring it particularly or make the country attractive to foreign investment,” Balisacan said.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that net inflows of foreign direct investments (FDIs) reported a 43.6% decline to $1.4 billion in November 2022.—AOL, GMA Integrated News