PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III, who presided over on Thursday the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board meeting, approved three new infrastructure projects amounting to P139.77 billion.

These projects are the P122.81-billion Laguna Lakeshore Expressway-Dike Project, P14.62-billion Laguindingan Airport Development, Operations and Maintenance Project, and the P2.34-billion New Bohol Airport Development, Operations and Maintenance Project.

"The approval of these new infrastructure projects is a timely contribution to the improvement of the country’s connectivity and efficiency, mitigating disaster-risks, supporting agricultural production, and pursuing energy and water security. These are all in line with strategies of the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

Meanwhile, the Neda Board also approved the single P9.35 billion-bid of the Light Rail Manila Consortium for the LRT Line 1 South Extension Project. The project will improve access to central Manila through providing off-street public transport connections to the rapidly growing southern portion of Metro Manila and the province of Cavite.

Approved in November 23, 2013, the project will provide focal points for transit-oriented development in the area and spur economic activity along its alignment such as the reclamation area facing Manila Bay.

"All these projects are aligned with the government’s overall strategy of increasing public infrastructure spending for the country to provide Filipinos with quality, adequate, and accessible infrastructure facilities and services," the Cabinet official added.

Moreover, the Neda Board approved the changes in funding source and cost of the Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation and Power Project-Irrigation Component (CMIPP-IC) Phase II and the Umayam River Irrigation Project (URIP).

The CMIPP-IC Phase II’s funding will now be fully locally sourced instead of foreign-assisted. Thus, the estimated total project cost was changed to P5.45 billion from the originally-approved P7.61 billion.

Similarly, the URIP will now be locally funded instead of foreign-assisted, which decreased the cost to P1.40 billion from the originally-approved P1.56 billion.

On another matter, the Neda Board confirmed the Infrastructure Committee's approval of the Transport Development for Metro Manila and its surrounding areas (Central Luzon and Calabarzon). The roadmap will serve as guide in the development of policies, prioritization, and design of programs and projects, as well as harmonize all efforts, realize synergy and improve coordination among transport agencies. (SDR/Sunnex)