Continuing BuildBuildBuild: What’s Next?
Throughout President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, Philippine economic managers touted the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) infrastructure program as fuel to economic growth. Today, BBB has indeed paved the way for businesses and jobs to thrive in the country in recent years. This only means one thing, that continuing BuildBuildBuild is an integral part of making the Philippines prosperous.
However, one question remains as we usher in a new administration: What’s next for BBB? Let’s discuss.
An Ambitious Project Done Right
To give you an idea, the “BBB” program consists of around 20,000 infrastructure projects nationwide, involving roads, highways, farm-to-market roads, airports, seaports, terminals, evacuation centers, lighthouses, hospitals, schools, government centers, and the like. It is the centerpiece and one of the priority programs of the Duterte administration, and has been allocated a budget of around PHP 8 trillion (US$164.7 billion) for a six-year period (2017-2022). Such budget allocation on infrastructure is thus far the highest in Philippine history.
Ambitious may be the right term to use for the BBB program. It seemed like it was impossible at first, but as the years went by, and infrastructure were built here and there, we saw the change that this country badly needed. Not to mention the obvious boom in our economy in recent years which helped weather the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To date, a total of 102 airport projects, 117 seaport projects, and 1,090.30 kilometers of railway have been completed. That’s not even mentioning the 1,020 bridges currently under construction. Undoubtedly, continuing BuildBuildBuild and finishing these projects should be a priority of the next administration.
BBB During The Pandemic
The BBB program has encountered some setbacks following the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the impacts was the realignment of part of the BBB budget to finance the government’s response to the country’s various health and socio-economic crises. In short, the budget for the program was cut and some major projects were halted.
However, despite budget cuts in public spending on infrastructure projects, the government has reprised the infrastructure program and retained 92 flagship projects amounting to around PHP 4.1 trillion (US$84.4 billion) in value.
It was a challenging time for BBB, eight projects were cut from the list of infrastructure priority projects. Despite this, the program never stopped. It even added projects aimed at intensifying internet connectivity and healthcare systems.
What Come’s After The Election
Will the BBB project slow down as we transition into a new administration? Probably not as the Duterte administration just poured another trillion pesos into infrastructure projects for 2022. This allocation for continuing BuildBuildBuild should set the pace for the next administration and beyond.
Who knows how priority within the BBB program shifts, though? Will the next admin consider building northward, going top-heavy and putting Luzon’s economy in the driver’s seat?
Or could Metro Manila and other urban centers see more improvements in transport infrastructure as it did in 2021?
What about the promise of developing Visayas as not just a regional hub but a major national economic driver and gateway to the world? We must fulfill it, no doubt.
One thing is certain at this point, the BBB project will continue to be a game-changer for the country. The next administration should prioritize it and maintain its momentum, lest risk losing the confidence of the people.