ACTOR Mark T. Lapid was finally elected as chief operating officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), during the government corporation’s first board meeting of the year.
A BusinessMirror source said, “The election was done on January 11, right after his zoom oath-taking as board member with [Tourism] Secretary Berna [Romulo Puyat].”
During the board meeting, the source said, “No new projects were presented…due to the limited travel tax collection. It’s a good thing there are still ongoing projects, because those will also require disbursements as they are constructed/completed. But money has been set aside for [these].”
Earlier, travel tax collections were estimated to have plunged by 83 percent to P1.2 billion in 2020, owing to the continued international travel restrictions implemented to contain the spread of Covid-19. In 2019, travel tax collection was P7.2 billion. Tieza’s operations are mainly funded from its 50-percent take from travel taxes collected at the various international airports in the country.
Some P2 billion in funds were kept for Tieza’s projects and were not part of the funds turned over for the initial Covid-19 effort of the Duterte administration under Bayanihan 1 last year. But the source said this will likely have decreased “because there were already a number of payments/disbursements as projects were completed.”
There are 35 ongoing projects slated to be completed this year, the largest of which is the Boracay Water Drainage Phase II-Package 1A, 3, 4 and 5 on Boracay Island, in Malay, Aklan.
Phase I of the two-phase, four-stage Boracay drainage expansion project was completed in 2014 at a cost of P91.8 million. Phase II has a budget of P1 billion.
The project has been a thorn in the side of Boracay residents and tourism stakeholders, as the annual monsoon rains usually result in flooding of the main beach road and a number of backroads. It was started by Tieza’s forerunner, the Philippine Tourism Authority, and has been in a state of construction under several administrations.
Other major projects slated for completion this year include: the rehabilitation of Club Intramuros and the rehabilitation of the Light and Sound Museum in Intramuros; redevelopment of Mt. Data Lodge in Bauko, Mountain Province and construction of a potable water system in Banaue, Ifugao; the sewerage
and waste water facility and boardwalk in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro; rehabilitation of a public restroom and water supply system at Poctoy White Beach in Torrijos, Marinduque; aesthetic lighting of the San Juanico Bridge in Samar and Leyte; rehabilitation and redevelopment of the McArthur Landing and Memorial Shrine and Park in Brgy. Baras, Palo, Leyte; among others.
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Article and Photo originally posted by Business Mirror last February 9, 2021 and written by Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo.
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