House oversight panels look into China-funded transport projects

THERE are at least three ongoing major projects of the government with China under the official development assistance (ODA), according to the Department of Transportation (DoTr) in its report submitted to the House oversight committee.

The House oversight committees conducted a hearing to determine  the DoTR expenditures and performance. The hearing was presided over by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The House of Representatives was looking into the DoTr’s use of its 2018 and 2019 budgets as well as its 2020 budget proposal.

During the hearing DoTr Undersecretary Timothy John Batan named three China ODA-funded projects: Subic-Clark Railway; Philippine National Railways (PNR) Bicol or the South Line or South Long Haul Project; and the Mindanao Railway Phase 1 as well as the future phases of Mindanao Railway.

He said the most advanced among these projects in terms of loan negotiations is the PNR Bicol.

“Under our China ODA guidelines, under the ODA general procedures of China, the process is, we do our procurement first, sign the contract and then we negotiate the loan agreement. This is unlike our Japanese and Asian Development Bank (ADB) projects where the loan agreement comes first before the procurement and the contract,” Batan explained.

Batan said that during the recent state visit of President Duterte in China, the loan agreement for the project management consultancy had already been consummated and it is only the signing and documentation that remains to be arranged by the Department of Finance (DoF) together with the China counterpart.

He said that one of the major developments for the PNR Bicol is that the DoTr signed the contract with the project management consultancy last November 2018, pursuant to the discussions between Tugade and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua himself.

Batan said the scope of the work of the consultancies includes design preparation; preparation of the bidding documents; tender assistance; construction supervision over the entire duration of the construction of the PNR Bicol; and defects-liability period supervision which is two years after full completion during which the project management consultant will be monitoring the warranties that come with the system.

The official added that the PNR Bicol is a National Economic Development Authority Board-approved project with an approved project cost of P175 billion.