DOF seeks approval of 8 bridge projects in Visayas

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The Philippine government plans to build eight major bridges with an estimated combined cost of P269.19 billion to interconnect the islands of Visayas and link the region to Luzon, part of the administration’s massive infrastructure build-up to further stimulate growth and create jobs outside Metro Manila, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said complementing these bridge projects is the construction of road networks to transform the island-economies of Visayas into growth corridors.

“These bridges will provide growth corridors and ensure that none of the major islands of the Visayas will be left behind in the country’s race to progress,” Dominguez said in a speech read by Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin at the closing of the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) held in Cebu recently.

Set to be submitted to the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) for approval include the 18.2-kilometer bridge connecting Samar provinces to Luzon; 20-kilometer bridge connecting Leyte to Mindanao Island through either an underwater tunnel bridge or a long-span overhead bridge; 5.7-kilometer Panay-Guimaras bridge; and 12.3-kilometer Guimaras-Negros inter-island linkages.

Also set for ICC approval are the one-kilometer Bohol-Lapinig Island bridge; 18-kilometer Lapinig Island-to-Leyte bridge; 5.5-kilometer Cebu-Negros Link Bridge; and 24.5-kilometer Cebu-to-Bohol Link Bridge.

Dominguez said these proposed bridges are on top of the four big-ticket projects in the Visayas under the “Build, Build, Build” program already approved for implementation by the National Economic and Development Authority  Board.

These four are the three airport improvement projects and the New Cebu International Container Port.

“Our infrastructure investments, estimated at US$170 billion between now and 2022, have very high multiplier effects. By undertaking these thoroughly studied strategic projects, we will stimulate economic activity. Jobs and opportunities will be created, and we are confident we can bring down poverty incidence to only 14% by 2022,” Dominguez said.

The finance chief also noted that the administration’s Build, Build, Build program “is in full swing.”

“We are continuing with our comprehensive tax reform program. Investment flows into our economy will continue to rise dramatically,” Dominguez said.

According to him, Filipinos will feel the economic benefits of these infrastructure projects “very soon,” with the country “moving strongly towards achieving a high middle-income status in a few years.”

“Be assured that President Duterte is fully committed to the overall economic program that will make our growth more inclusive, our people more prosperous and our communities stronger and safer,” he said.

The Philippines, Dominguez noted, is now one of the best performing economies in Asia, with the ADB declaring the country as having entered its “golden age” of economic growth.

Bridge on avenue perspective from www.flaticon.com