New prexy must build better infra

WHOEVER runs for presidency in the upcoming May 2022 elections must focus on building high-quality infrastructure, an economist said.

“We have to build better,” said Ronilo Balbieran, vice president of think-tank Research, Education and Institutional Development Foundation in a recent virtual summit.

Balbieran said it is not enough for the country to continue the Build, Build, Build momentum of the Duterte administration but also for the next elected president to build high-quality infrastructure.

“The next president must highlight this one,” said Balbieran, adding that infrastructure contributes to higher productivity and growth, and a key ingredient in the country’s full economic recovery.

The Build, Build, Build program aims at erasing the country’s infrastructure backlog. The government is spending roughly P8.4 trillion until 2022 for this program.

The country’s first half infra spending rose by 43.2 percent year-on-year to P426.6 billion. Second-quarter infrastructure spending rose by a faster 63.2 percent year-on-year to P231.4 billion.

Private-led construction spending is also helping the economy recover from the pandemic.

In the second quarter of this year, Balbeiran said the country saw a 286 percent acceleration in construction spending as Filipinos embarked in various home renovation programs after homes became an extension of work, business and school.

Moreover, opportunities also abound as the government purses road improvements across the country.

According to Balbieran, this is one key area where the country has “barely even touched its potential.”

While paved national roads has already reached 97.18 percent or 33,018 kilometers, local roads have been barely paved at 18.85 percent or 177,595 kilometers. Local roads cover the provincial, municipal, city and barangay roads.

“If paved roads in the local scene reaches 30 percent, imagine what it can do to logistics and transportation sectors and the amount of businesses it will create,” said Balbieran.(KOC)