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Innovation facility

by Francis N. Tolentino

The physical infrastructure of a certain locality such as roads, bridges, airports and seaports are important instruments to advance local development. Such facilities serve as channels through which the much-needed products, services, resources and information are brought to communities in order to speed up and improve the lives of local residents.

In reality, many infrastructures like the ones we have mentioned above are either not being fully utilized or have been left hardly maintained, especially those constructed in the provinces. Sadly, some have even been left unfinished. Yet, if we would closely examine the books, considerable sums of public funds have been poured upon these projects, and we cannot help but regret having wasted valuable resources on poorly constructed public facilities. There are existing roads and bridges in the countryside which could have served the people better had it been designed and planned well and the program of work for the project was faithfully followed. Great injustice is being done to the people when public funds – the people’s funds – as well as other government resources are utilized for purposes other than the pursuit of public good.

For every infrastructure project, the government allocates a great deal of financial resources, from the preparation of the program of work to the actual construction of the project. The sluggish process of project design, the lack of technical know-how in planning, inadequate funding as well as the lack of coordination between and among concerned government agencies contribute to the cumbersome and poor implementation and monitoring of some government infrastructure projects. I do not intend to say here that our fellow public officials are not doing their jobs well. I only wish to emphasize that it might be time to revolutionize our systems and processes, that is, the way we do things, in order to accelerate the delivery of public service and thus, speed up the cascading of development to local communities through functional public infrastructures.

I can personally see great potential in the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte which aims to strengthen the economy through the establishment of infrastructures that will hasten the movement of products, services and information to and from strategic areas across the nation. With the help of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which allocated $100 million for the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility (IPIF), the government hopes to fast-track the preparation and implementation of infrastructure projects without sacrificing project quality. (Engr. Rolando Tungpalan, Undersecretary for Investment Programming – NEDA). Under the IPIF, there will be a transfer of technical knowledge as well as technology to Filipino engineers whose primary task is the general study, planning and design of road networks, railways, bridges, airports and seaports. In this way, it is expected that infrastructure projects will be commenced and finished according to the time table, specifications and budget allocation set in the approved program of work.

The unhampered and rapid movement towards development can only be guaranteed through the establishment of infrastructures that will truly serve as conduits of progress for our people, especially those barely reached by government services. Revving up reforms in our current government systems, I believe, is the first big step.

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