MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine infrastructure projects worth 5 billion pesos ($107.5 million) and less will no longer require the economic planning agency’s go-ahead, the government said on Tuesday, a change that it hopes will quicken the approval process.
The Southeast Asian nation, the fastest-growing economy in Asia, is overhauling its notoriously creaky infrastructure with new roads, bridges, airports and trains.
“We are ramping (up) infrastructure investment in the other regions without, of course, stifling needed infrastructure projects in Metro Manila,” Ernesto Pernia, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, told a news conference.
Infrastructure projects that cost 5 billion pesos and lower, up from the previous level of 1 billion pesos, will be rolled out more quickly.
Ten key infrastructure projects, mostly in the provinces, worth 320 billion pesos ($6.9 billion), are up for approval in September by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The government plans to spend 860.7 billion pesos for infrastructure projects in 2017 under the proposed budget, up 13% from this year.
“What we intend to do is to focus now on the sub-national and regional economies, including rural areas and agriculture in order to disperse development away from mega urban industrial regions,” Pernia said.
The Philippine economy grew an annual rate of 7% in the second quarter on the back of election campaign spending, giving President Duterte leeway to achieve the targeted 6-7% expansion in 2016.
($1 = 46.5200 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)