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MANILA, Philippines – To continue his much-touted Build Better More program, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is eyeing a total infrastructure budget of P1.418 trillion in 2024 – equivalent to nearly a quarter of the entire year’s budget.
The Build Better More program is Marcos’ iteration of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s Build Build Build campaign. Like Duterte, Marcos targets spending at least 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) a year on infrastructure development; in the 2024 budget, it’s projected to be about 5.3%.
In Marcos’ message regarding the budget, he said it would “continue and expand the Golden Age of Infrastructure of the country.”
But whether infrastructure development in the country is truly in a golden age is debatable, considering that Duterte’s ambitious Build, Build, Build campaign only managed to complete about a dozen of his planned 119 projects. (READ: Build, Build, Build: Mapping the Duterte administration’s infrastructure legacy)
Where will the money go?
Two agencies will be responsible for most of the infrastructure development: the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
According to the President’s message on the budget, the DPWH will receive P801.2 billion for public infrastructure projects while the DOTr gets P176.4 billion. These amounts are not the same as the total budget allocated to each department.
These hundreds of billions will go to 194 infrastructure flagship projects approved by the National Economic and Development Authority Board. Of these 194 projects, 123 kicked off under the present administration.
Meanwhile, the DPWH will receive P148.1 billion to construct new roads and improve existing ones. Another P115.6 billion will be used for preventive maintenance of roads and repair of damaged paved roads. The construction and maintenance of bridges will also receive P45.8 billion in funding.
For transportation, over 76% of the DOTr’s budget will go to developing railways, both new and existing. Two big-ticket projects, the North-South Commuter Railway and the Metro Manila Subway, make up the bulk of this, being allocated P76.3 billion and P68.4 billion, respectively.
The Build Better More program also includes some social infrastructure projects. About P40.6 billion has also been allocated for the construction and improvement of public school buildings, while P15.3 billion will go towards building public hospitals and health centers. – Rappler.com