Wednesday, 22 July 2009

P7-B ADB-funded Philippine infrastructure project goes full blast

Jonathan L. Mayuga
Business Mirror

ABOUT 779 of the poorest towns in the country are set to benefit from the massive infrastructure buildup of farm-to-market roads, community-owned irrigation systems and potable-water systems.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has targeted the poorest communities in 41 provinces from Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao.

The project, called Infrastructure for Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector (Infres), was funded with a $150-million (roughly P7 billion) supervised loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), plus counterpart funding by the national government and local government partners.

In a report to President Arroyo and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, undersecretary for field operations and Infres project director Jesus Emmanuel Paras said as of the end of May this year, the physical infrastructure component of the project was 60-percent complete.

Of the targeted 1,478 kilometers of farm-to-market roads, 1,034 kilometers are either finished or in final stages of completion, representing 70 percent. Out of a target of building 2,305 hectares of community-owned irrigation systems, 1,454 hectares are now irrigated for a completion rate of 63 percent, while 18 out of the targeted 37 potable-water systems have been built, representing 49 percent.

The two other components of the project include capability building of local government units, beneficiary communities, nongovernment organizations, people’s organizations and the DA, and project management coordination that facilitates project implementation.

The bulk of the funding, Paras said, went into the roads, irrigation systems and potable-water systems which got $109 million from the ADB, the national government and local governments.

In all, Paras reported, 148 contract packages were awarded. Of these, 47 have been completed and 99 are in full blast. Released funds have totaled P998,885,842 or roughly one-seventh of the total loan. Three-fourths of the released fund has been liquidated.

Paras said all of the projects were closely monitored through consultation visits by DA regional field units whose technical staff helped local governments fix engineering, financial and other concerns.

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