By Ben O. de Vera, November 25, 2020; Philippine Daily Inquirer

The economic team is seeking President Duterte’s go-ahead to extend by three years the validity of the Japanese loan earmarked for the capacity expansion of two upcoming Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines.

In all, 27 projects funded by official development assistance (ODA) and the national budget worth over P650 billion were pending various stages of approval from the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority as of Nov. 20, documents showed.

Public-private partnership projects were not included in the list.

The lone project awaiting green light from the Neda Board chaired by the President is the request for loan validity extension for the Capacity Enhancement of Mass Transit Systems in Metro Manila Project, which covers the P61.5-billion LRT Line 1 South Extension and P9.8-billion LRT Line 2 East Extension.

They are among the 104 infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Japan earlier extended an ODA amounting to P20.9 billion. Thi was for the procurement of rolling stock and installation of facilities for the two LRT extension projects.

The Neda said the Department of Transportation was requesting the extension of loan validity for the project from Nov. 22, 2020 to Nov. 22, 2023.

Meanwhile, eight projects are up for approval of Neda’s Investment Coordination (ICC) Committee-Cabinet Committee. These include the request for implementation and loan validity extension for the Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management Project Scaling-up; P18.8-billion Philippine Rural Development Project Retrofitting Second Additional Financing; P5.8-billion Teacher Effectiveness and Competencies Enhancement Project; P7.6-billion Steel Flyover Construction for Traffic Decongestion in Urban Areas, Phase 1; Seismic Risk Reduction and Resilience Project; theIconic Bridges Project for Sustainable Socioeconomic Development Phase 1; implementation and loan validity extension for the Panguil Bay Bridge Project, and the request for cost increase and implementation schedule for the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project Stage 2.

Eighteen other projects are up for action or review by the Neda ICC’s technical board.