THE National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board, chaired by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., approved major infrastructure programs and other initiatives on Friday, June 2, 2023, to support the country’s overall goal of genuine economic and social transformation.

Neda Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said among those approved by the board during a meeting in Malacañang is the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project worth P23.4 billion.

The 59.4-kilometer four-lane expressway will connect the Ilocos Region, the President’s bailiwick, to Central Luzon and Metro Manila. It will be implemented through a public-private partnership (PPP) under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Balisacan said it is expected to stimulate economic activity, improve road congestion, provide better and safer road access, and promote the development of new growth centers in nearby regions.

The project is in accordance with the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) guidelines, which were confirmed by the board during the meeting, outlining the requirements and procedures for processing PPP proposals of local government units (LGUs).

The guidelines highlight the role of the regional development councils and other local development councils in ensuring that LGU projects are aligned with national development plans and priorities.

BBalisacan said the ICC also approved the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Projects (PRDP) Scale-Up, which costs around P45.01 billion and could build on the successes of the original PRDP.

Through the said program, the country could further enhance its agricultural productivity, increase income opportunities, and improve the living conditions in rural communities throughout the country.

It is also seen to empower farmers and fisherfolks, strengthen value chains, and promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth by institutionalizing new environmental and social safeguard frameworks and protocols.

Out of the 194 infrastructure flagship projects of the administration, Balisacan said 68 are currently ongoing, 25 have been approved for implementation, nine are awaiting government approval, and the remaining projects are either in the process of project preparation or pre-project preparation.

“To recall, these high-impact infrastructure projects are designed to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit to revive driving sustainable economic growth across priority sectors of our economy. In total, IFPs have an estimated cost of P8.3 trillion,” Balisacan said. (SunStar Philippines)