Duterte Greenlights $15.3 Billion of Airport, Rail Projects

(Bloomberg) -- A multi-billion-dollar proposal by San Miguel Corp. to build an alternative to the Philippine capital’s congested airport passed a crucial government hurdle, leading the list of approvals for more than a dozen projects.

San Miguel’s offer to invest 735.6 billion pesos ($14.1 billion) for an integrated airport project in Bulacan province north of the capital was approved by a Philippine inter-agency committee led by President Rodrigo Duterte. The proposal will be subject to a public challenge under local rules.

The government also approved a 12.6 billion-peso tender to operate Clark international airport at the former U.S. military base and a 50 billion-peso railway project that will connect Clark to the Subic free port, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a mobile phone message. Twenty projects and funding plans were given the go-ahead, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Airports and railways are key components of Duterte’s 9 trillion-peso infrastructure push. Under a program called “Build, Build, Build,” the Philippines aims to boost infrastructure spending to 7.3 percent of gross domestic product by 2022 from 6.3 percent this year to support an economy that’s been growing above 6 percent since 2012.

Manila’s 70-year-old airport handles passengers well beyond the 30 million it was designed for, prompting the need to expand Clark airport. This has drawn interest from the likes of Changi Airports International Pte Ltd, Incheon International Airport Corp., Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd and Chinese airport operators, Bases Conversion Development Authority President Vince Dizon said in an interview late Wednesday.

Submission of bids for Clark’s operations will likely be in July and the winner will be chosen in August, Dizon said. The airport’s capacity is being expanded to 12 million passengers in two years from the current 4 million.

San Miguel, this year’s best performer among companies comprising the Philippine Stock Exchange Index, was unchanged at 139 pesos. It has gained 24 percent this year.

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