Demand a key factor in ‘Build Build Build’

Public demand is a key consideration for project inclusion in the Duterte administration’s “Build Build Build” program, the Finance department said.

“We’re not going to make a mistake of going into projects that we don’t have a demand for,” the department quoted Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd as having recently told deputy assistant secretaries Geoffrey Okamoto and Robert Kaproth of the US Department of the Treasury.

“We are not going to fall into this trap of ‘Build it and they will come’,” he added.

“We’re going to start the project where we are already behind, like our airports, our Manila transportation system, our railways. We’re already far behind the rest,” Dominguez continued.

The Finance chief claimed that this would ensure adequate returns for the government and help pay off loans taken out to finance the projects.

He pointed to the planned New Clark City at the Clark Freeport Zone — a former US military base — as an example of the demand-driven approach as it would decongest Metro Manila.

Dominguez noted the need to spread development from the capital, where daily traffic gridlocks have led to massive productivity and revenue losses.

New Clark City — one of the government’s 75 flagship projects — will also include the expansion of the existing Clark International Airport as an alternative to Metro Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

New Clark City will also be the site of an alternative government center.

Dominguez has said that people would be willing to pay for big-ticket infrastructure projects that were “long overdue.”

“We are not guessing here. There is already a need, a demand there,” he pointed out.

The government, which is aiming for 7.0-8.0 percent gross domestic product growth this year, is banking on “Build Build Build” to provide the impetus.

At least 34 projects are expected to be rolled out this year or early in 2019.

The ambitious infrastructure program will be bankrolled by tax reforms and concessional loans, with the overall budget expected to hit up to P9 trillion by 2022.

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