The Philippine economy has been among the best performers in Asia in recent years, but its outdated and insufficient infrastructure constrains the economy.
The Philippines being an archipelago, also poses costly geographical barriers to trade.
To address the issue, the country has increased spending on infrastructures such as roads, bridges, air, and seaports in recent years to address major bottlenecks and improve regional trade and connectivity.
The ASEAN Post article, ““Build Build Build” Program Amid a Pandemic” reports that President Rodrigo Duterte’s Build Build Build (BBB) PHP 8trillion (US$164.7 billion) Initiative, so far the biggest allocation in infrastructure investment in Philippine history, will consist of around 20,000 infrastructure projects around the country which will include:
- building and improving roads,
- farm-to-market roads,
- evacuation centers,
- hospital, school, and
- government centers.
According to the article, infrastructure investment will not concentrate in Manila alone but will be a “balanced and responsive regional/countryside development for the country.”
Compared to the past six administrations, the Duterte administration has also increased its infrastructure spending by its GDP, which only averages 2.6% of its GDP. In 2020, the government allocated 4.6 percent of its GDP or Php 972.5 billion (US$20 billion) to its BBB Initiative.
However, the implementation of the BBB program initiative was affected and encountered some setbacks due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The BBB program has suffered some budget cuts due to medical response and emergency relief because of the pandemic.
This budget realignment has reduced the number of infrastructure projects and caused the government to reprioritize the infrastructure program and retain 92 flagship projects.
The eight projects removed from the list of infrastructure priority projects were replaced by 13 projects that focused on expanding connectivity, organizing water supply, improving transportation and digital economy, health care systems, including building a virology center in Clark City.
The Philippine News Agency updates on the BBB Initiative that shows what infrastructure projects have been completed, including 212 airport projects, 446 seaport projects, 10 376 flood mitigation structures, 26 494 kilometers of road, and 5 555 bridges. And also others that are still currently in construction.
The ASEAN Post article also list down the number of BBB flagship infrastructure projects that were also completed, which includes
“(1) the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project; (2) the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway Rosario Exit; (3) the newly opened four-lane Sorsogon City Coastal Road; (4) New Clark City [Phase 1A]; (5) Harbor Link; (6) Sangley Airport; (7) Broadband project with Facebook [Luzon Bypass Infrastructure]; (8) Bohol-Panglao International Airport; (9) Laguna Lake Highway; (10) Cagayan de Oro Port, the country’s biggest passenger terminal port; (11) TPLEX Rosario; (12) TPLEX Pozorrubio; (13) New World-Class Terminal in Mactan-Cebu International Airport; (14) Lal-lo International Airport; and (15) Puerto Princesa International Airport.”
The slew of infrastructure projects in the Philippines is aimed to steer and drive economic recovery from the pandemic and improve the archipelago’s connectivity necessary for the nation’s progress.
The cost of building infrastructure, especially in massive numbers, is very high, and many countries, including the Philippines, struggle to allocate funds for it.
Ensuring that these assets continue to provide the expected level of service throughout their lives or even extending their lives for economic and societal benefits should be a priority to any government.
Infrastructure systems are often neglected until something gets broken or damaged and no longer provides the expected service. When this happens, the intervention will become very costly, doing significant repairs or total replacements.
A substantial amount of time and money invested in infrastructures are enough reasons to apply asset management practices to ensure that infrastructure continues to provide sustainable and economic services most cost-effectively.