Home Top News More IFPs to be fast-tracked — NEDA

More IFPs to be fast-tracked — NEDA

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Nearly 50 infrastructure flagship projects are expected to be fast-tracked as the government streamlines the permitting process. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

NEARLY 50 infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) in the pipeline will be fast-tracked as the government streamlines the process of securing permits, licenses and other clearances, a National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) official said.

This comes after the government on Tuesday launched the implementing guidelines for Executive Order (EO) No. 59, which limits the number of permits or clearances required for IFPs and simplifies the permit approval process of government agencies.

“We have a number of projects in what we call pre-project implementation. These projects are not yet ready for approval, but they’re seeking all the clearances, detailed engineering designs, consultation, and so forth and so on,” NEDA Undersecretary Joseph J. Capuno told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Tuesday.

He said that between 35 and 50 projects are for pre-project implementation, covering the transport, irrigation, and agriculture sectors.

Out of the total count, 40 are projects under the Department of Transportation, six are under the Department of Public Works and Highways, one is under the National Irrigation Authority, and one is a project under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Secretary Ernesto V. Perez said that under the EO guidelines, the number of agencies that would issue permits for IFPs has been reduced to about 18 from the current 30.

“Now with EO 59 directing all National Government agencies and local government units involved in issuing licenses, clearances, permits, certifications, and authorizations for IFPs… we have been able to reduce these from 30 to just about 12 or maximum of 18 government licensing agencies,” Mr. Perez said during the event.

NEDA and ARTA have yet to provide the complete list of agencies that would be tasked to issue permits for IFPs.

“By limiting the number of requirements, the LGUs (local government units) and the agencies now are compelled to observe this,” Mr. Perez said, noting that offices previously mandated different requirements that delayed the permit granting process.

Under the guidelines, licensing agencies must follow the 3-7-20 rule as stated in Republic Act (RA) No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Law. This means simple transactions must be completed within three calendar days, complex transactions within seven days, and highly technical transactions within 20 days.

An agency’s failure to act within the given timeline means an IFP application will be deemed approved, according to EO guidelines.

Mr. Capuno also clarified that EO 59 only covers the permitting process for IFPs. The 120-day approval limit for IFPs pending at the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee and the NEDA Board will still be covered under RA 11966 or the Public-Private Partnership Code.

The guidelines will also allow the use of electronic or digital signatures, and limit the number of signatories required on documents, NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said in a speech delivered by Mr. Capuno at Tuesday’s event.

The rules also allow the simultaneous processing of applications through the submission of an Affidavit of Undertaking. It also requires the automatic approval or renewal of documents if licensing agencies do not act within the prescribed time.

IFP licensing and related agencies are also required to automate and computerize their database and adopt an online or electronic submission portal to ensure seamless data sharing and faster permitting process.

All government offices and LGUs are also required to set up one-stop shops for IFPs, according to EO guidelines.

Under EO 59, the only local permits or clearances required for flagship projects include the environmental compliance certificate or certificate of non-coverage from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; building or occupancy permit issued by a municipal official; excavation permit from the local government unit (LGU), and clearances from the National Commission for Culture and Arts, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority as applicable.

The Marcos administration has identified 185 IFPs with a total value of P9.54 trillion.

Mr. Balisacan said three IFPs have been completed since the beginning of the Marcos administration.

The Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project and the Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Measures in Pampanga Bay Project were completed in 2023. The Flood Risk Improvement and Management Project for the Cagayan de Oro River was finished earlier this year.

“We look forward to completing more projects in 2024 and beyond as we accelerate the rollout of our IFPs,” he added.

The National Government aims to spend 5.6% of gross domestic product on infrastructure projects until 2028. — B.M.D.Cruz

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