The Philippines has launched an ambitious 25-year port modernisation programme that will require 492 billion pesos (about HK$146.1 billion) in funding. The programme is being implemented by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the state agency which administers all government ports in the Philippines. Starting this year and expected to be completed in 2021, the programme consists of five projects: Development of the country's seven major ports of Manila, Pagbilao, Sual, Irene, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Zamboanga into regional transshipment ports. Construction of a series of ports along the Pan-Philippine Highway that links the country from Luzon to Mindanao. Modernisation of the domestic ports of Manila and Cebu, which handle the bulk of the Philippines' coastal trade. Creation of a network of specialised ports for roll-on, roll-off vessels in the Visayan island group. Implementation of a 'hub-and-spoke' port system to link more developed ports with smaller counterparts. The 19 major ports will add 135.5 kilometres of berth length, 1,038 hectares of back-up area and 75,938 square metres of passenger terminal space under the plan. The bulk, or 46 per cent, of the expansion work will be at Manila, the country's main trade gateway. Most of the country's ports are notoriously inefficient. The cost per tonne of discharging and bagging a cargo of grain in Manila is about 50 per cent of the current trans-pacific freight rate for cargo. Outside Manila, piers are normally in a poor state of repair and basic cargo handling facilities are mostly absent. The PPA indicated that projects would be open to foreign private investors on a joint-venture or a build-operate-transfer arrangement.