Philippines approves launch of $7.7 billion of infrastructure projects

MANILA - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the rollout of 270 billion pesos (S$7.7 billion) worth of roads, railways, airports and seaports to boost economic growth, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Up for bidding and construction are the 653 km North-South Railway South Line project worth US$4.36 billion, and seven smaller projects mostly related to rural development, the economic planning agency said.

The latest approvals bring to 17 the number of infrastructure projects, valued at 500 billion pesos, that have been launched since Duterte began his term on June 30, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

Duterte has pledged to boost infrastructure spending to lift economic growth to as much as 8 per cent during his six-year term and spread wealth more evenly.

The Southeast Asian nation is hard-pressed to modernise its ageing infrastructure to attract much-need investment to create jobs and raise incomes in a country where more than a quarter of its population live below the poverty line.