Luzon needs Php1.2T to reach higher economic growth - Salceda

The government needs to pour in Php1.2 trillion for a long-term investment to further improve the economic and social growth in the eight regions of Luzon, according to the Luzon Regional Development Committee (RDCom).

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, Bicol Regional Development Council chair and concurrent RDCom chair, on Tuesday said the amount will fund some 16 mega-infrastructure projects for the eight regions of the Luzon island from 2015 to 2045.

The RDCom has formulated the Luzon Spatial Development Framework (LSDF) plan, which would cover the Cordillera Autonomous Region, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol and the National Capital Region.

Salceda, a known economist, said the LSDF needs more fine-tuning as he referred to the requested budgetary outlay as a “conservative” figure for a 30-year project timetable.

“On a economic scale, the funding should have been given flexibility or space for future adjustments,” he said.

He stressed that “If you spread this budget outlay within a 30-year span, Luzon will only get Php400 billion a year,” to carry out several major projects.

Citing budgetary figures, Salceda said MMDA alone is spending Php68 billion a year, adding that it needs Php1.3 trillion to decongest Metro Manila.

Salceda said once the proposal has been approved by the RDCom, this will be endorsed to the NEDA Board for adoption.

The LSDF has adopted strategies that would link communication, transportation (land, air, sea) and economic infrastructure system through a high-standard highway system from Ilocos Region down to Bicol.

The strategies adopted will involve three core projects -- namely, connectivity, concentration and vulnerability reduction.

The Php1.2-trillion funding is broken down into: connectivity projects, which will get the biggest slice with Php601.9 billion; followed by vulnerability projects, Php469.9 billion; and concentration projects, Php106.1 billion.

Connectivity projects intend to fully integrate settlements and economic production of regions by strengthening linkages of communication, transportation and economic infrastructure.

Vulnerability reductions efforts will be integrated with concentration and connectivity securing the safety of residents from the threats of disasters.

While concentration projects aims to increase overall densities of settlements in terms of population and economic activities.

The LSDF is also a link to the Japan International Cooperation Agency MEGA Manila “Dream Plan” on transportation and access development for seamless connectivity and complementation.

Projects lined up for implementation in Bicol are: the North-South Railway Project, which is aimed at reviving the Bicol Express railway system that connects 653 kilometers of south lines from Manila to Legazpi to Matnog with a total project cost of Php340 billion.

Salceda said the Manila-Legazpi project amounting to Php170 billion has been bid out by the Department of Transportation and Communications to interested contractors and expected to be fully operational by 2021.

The New Naga Airport Project, which involves the reorientation of the airfield, carries a Php3.5-billion funding requirement.

The GuiCaDaLe Strategic Platform Road Network in Albay will encourage and redirect economic activities in areas safe from the threats posed by Mayon Volcano eruptions, lahar flows, flooding and tsunamis.

It involves Guinobatan, Camalig and Daraga towns and the City of Legazpi.

The project is Php854 million, to be funded under the regular budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Bicol.

The construction of a 10.8-kilometer concrete bridge, dubbed as Catanduanes Friendship Bridge, aims to connect the island-province to mainland Bicol via Caramoan, Camarines Sur. The Naga-Legazpi Freeway System involves the improvement and construction of an 86-kilometer elevated four-lane highway from San Fernando, Camarines Sur, to Daraga, Albay, and carries a Php6.020-billion project cost.

The Bicol River Basin Development Program is a poverty- reduction program in local communities within the Bicol River Basin in Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

It is a Php31.3-billion project that involves livelihood for increased crop production and commodity development, protection of forest cover, improve water quality of major rivers and lakes, rehabilitation of mangrove areas and reduction of damages and losses due to natural disasters and hazards. (PNA)