NLEx-SLEx, CALA road projects (almost) a go

Cai U. Ordinario

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Two of the Philippines' biggest infrastructure projects -- the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALA) and Pangilinan-led NLEx-SLEx Connector Road Link -- were only 'conditionally approved' due to cost issues

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The final approving body for the country’s big-ticket infrastructure projects approved P119.03 billion worth of projects, but the two biggest — the P43 billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALA) and P25 billion NLEx-SLEx Connector Road Link — were only “conditionally approved” due to cost issues. 

On Thursday, November 29, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Aquino, has given the go-signal for the two major road projects to proceed with other aspects of the project — including going through a Swiss challenge.

“The President wanted the numbers to be checked again to make sure [or] to see if they could be lowered possibly,” Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

He said President Aquino was not convinced and “wanted to do another verification of the costings” because what were presented were “just indicative costs of the project.” He said that when the projects will be bid out, “the cost will probably be a little bit lower than what the indicative price is.” 

For the NLEx-SLEx Connector Road Project — the one that President Aquino has said he wants completed before he steps down in 2016 — this “conditional approval” will hit Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) led by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. MPIC is the proponent of one of the two road links meant to link and cut the travel time between the expressways north and south of the capital.  

MPIC’s road project proposal is subject to a Swiss challenge, while the consortium of San Miguel Corp. and the Citra group does not.  

Carandang explained that “the San Miguel-Citra [project] was not required for approval because that’s being done on their own. ‘Yung sa MPIC, that requires a Swiss challenge. With the approval of the NEDA Board, then the process can move forward…which means there will be a Swiss challenge. Once that Swiss challenge has been resolved then the project can proceed.”

Total projects OKd: P119.03-B

The projects include 6 Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) worth P101.45 billion, and 5 mostly Official Development Assistance (ODA)-funded projects worth P17.58 billion.

The 6 PPP projects include:

  • Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALA) worth P43 billion. The project was approved in principle, pending a review of the project cost. The project will be undertaken between 2012 and 2017.
  • Phase 1 of the Mactan, Cebu International Airport Terminal worth P17.5 billion. The project will be completed between 2014 and 2016.
  • Contactless Automatic Fare Collection System worth P1.7 billion. The project will be completed between 2013 and 2014.
  • Rehabilitation of Angat Hydroelectric Plant (Turbines 4 and 5) worth P1.15 billion. The project will be undertaken between 2013 and 2014.
  • School Infrastructure Project worth P13.1 billion. The project will build 10,679 classrooms between 2013 and 2014.
  • NLEx-SLEx Connector of the Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Corp. worth P25 billion. The project was also approved in principle pending a review of the cost. It will be undertaken between 2013 and 2014.

The 5 other projects approved by the NEDA board are the:

  • Albay West Coast Road Project worth P1.14 billion and will be undertaken between 2014 and 2016.
  • Tacloban Airport Redevelopment Project worth P2.1 billion and will be completed between 2013 and 2016.
  • Acquisition of Multi-Role Response vessels worth P8.8 billion. The project will be undertaken this year until 2016.
  • Component A of the Convergence on Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment worth P68 million. The project will run from 2013 to 2019.
  • Extension of the Mindanao Rural Development Project 2 worth P4.6 billion. The project will be undertaken this year until 2014.

The powers and functions of the NEDA reside in the NEDA board. It is the country’s premier social and economic development planning and policy coordinating body.

The board is composed of the President as chairman, the Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning and NEDA Director-General as vice-chairman.

The members of the NEDA board include the Executive Secretary and the Secretaries of Finance, Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Highways, Budget and Management, Labor and Employment, and the Interior and Local Government. –

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