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Funds for bridge, HPBS expected in 2021: Exec

The funding requirements for both the bridge that will connect the Island Garden City of Samal and the city as well the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) are expected to be included in the 2021 national budget, a top city government official said Tuesday.

At the launching of the Camella Toril, Ivan C. Cortez, City Planning and Development Office coordinator, said he successfully defended the two projects when the city government presented it before the Investment Coordination Committee and the Cabinet Committee on November 6.

This developed as Cortez confirmed the city government is negotiating with the Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. for the setting up of an intermodal transport hub in the property of the company in Toril for the southern part.

In his private message to the TIMES, Cortez said the bridge will need a P23 billion funding, while the bus system will need P19 billion.

On the bus system, the city government is required to set aside P2.8 billion for the funding next year which it can either source internally or it “can find other financing options or sources to get things going by 2020.”

He said the discussions on the funding requirements cannot be made available next year as the national government has completed the drafting of the national budget for next year. “What they will discuss from January to March (2020) is (the budget for) the 2021 projects,” Cortez said during the event.

Congress has started deliberating the 2020 national budget even as the Senate has passed its version which will eventually submitted to the bi-cameral committee of Congress to finally iron it the differences between the version and that of the House of Representatives.

On the bus system plan, he said, the target is to replace about 7,500 jeepneys by about 1,300 buses to decongest the main highways and modernize the transport system of the city.

“The focus of the city mayor (Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio) is really is on the full implementation of the HPBS before her term ends,” he said. To do this, he explained the city government is pursuing the first phase by adding more augmentation buses which have been deployed in routes that are considered priority.

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