Mega Manila subway plan up for Duterte OK

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The country’s first subway system will be up for President Duterte’s approval next month ahead of the planned signing of the loan agreement between the Philippine and Japanese governments in November, the country’s chief economist said.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the P230-billion Mega Manila Subway Project Phase 1 would be in the agenda of the Neda Board, chaired by the President, in its meeting in early September.

Documents form the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) showed the project was still pending approval of Neda’s Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), but Pernia later told reporters that it could be fast-tracked ahead of the Neda Board meeting.

Pernia said the feasibility study for the proposed subway was already completed, while the scope and financing were being finalized at the ICC level.

The Neda chief said they were eyeing below 1-percent interest on the loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), payable in 20 years with a 15-year grace period.

Groundbreaking for the project will be in December next year, for completion by 2022, Neda documents showed.

The loan will be signed by Mr. Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in November.

In June, Pernia told the Inquirer that the government was eyeing to secure the largest official development assistance (ODA) from Japan for the subway system that would serve Metro Manila and surrounding areas. -  BEN O. DE VERA/