NEDA board OKs TPLEX extension project connecting Ilocos and Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 3) — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved the ₱23.4-billion Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project connecting the Ilocos region, Central Luzon, and Metro Manila.

After the board's meeting on Friday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told a briefing that the 59.4-kilometer, 4 lane extension highway is expected to stimulate economic activity and decongest traffic.

Balisacan said the approval of the expressway project was the fastest among unsolicited proposals to the NEDA, from its submission on March 17 to the approval on Friday. The project will be implemented through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

He said the next step for the TPLEX Extension Project is to negotiate the contract with the proponent, San Miguel Holdings Corp. (SMHC), and conduct a Swiss challenge before the implementation of the project.

The Swiss challenge is used by the Philippine government in the bidding process for unsolicited proposals wherein other interested parties can challenge the project's proponent. After receiving these bids, the original contractor can also match the best bid.

"The plan is to complete the project within the term of the administration," said the NEDA chief, adding the TPLEX is eyed to be extended further north to Vigan and Laoag.

The Department of Finance (DOF) lauded the approval of the TPLEX Extension Project, with Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno saying it shows the government's "resolve to cut bureaucratic red tape and streamline government processes…critical to accelerating much needed investments in infrastructure."

"To ensure a thorough and fair evaluation process, the DOF introduced provisions to the Parameters, Terms, and Conditions to limit government contingent liabilities in case of concessionaire default," the DOF also said.

Other initiatives greenlighted by the NEDA Board were Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) guidelines for PPP projects in local government units to align with national development plans and the ₱45.01-billion Philippine Rural Development Projects Scale-up of the Department of Agriculture meant for the agriculture sector.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sits as the board's chairperson.

"The Marcos administration remains steadfast in its dedication to pursuing projects that are in line with its 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda and with the strategies identified in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028," Balisacan said during the briefing.

"We commit to implement initiatives that will promote inclusive growth, induce high quality job creation, and greatly improve living standards for all Filipinos," he added.