Inquirer, 27 October 2013

PPP Center exec says other projects in the pipeline to go full blast

At least five major infrastructure projects will be completed under the public-private partnership (PPP) framework and several others likely to be in full blast of construction before President Aquino steps down from office in 2016, the chief of the government’s PPP Center said.

Speaking during the 8th Philippine Forum organized by The Asset Magazine and the Fund Managers Association of the Philippines (FMAP) last week, PPP Center executive director Cosette Canilao said the five projects likely to be completed during this administration were Daang Hari tollroad, School Infrastructure project phases one and two, the modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center and the Naia Expressway.

Speaking to reporters after the forum, Canilao said it’s also possible to complete the integrated transport fare collection system within Mr. Aquino’s term. “Once this project is approved and rolled out, it’s possible that this will be completed. It’s not too complicated,” she said.

For his part, Transportation Undersecretary Rene Limcaoco said most of the infrastructure projects under his department’s pipeline would likely take off, not just those to be bid out under the PPP framework but likewise those that would be undertaken by the government itself.

Canilao said the following projects would be at the height of construction within Mr. Aquino’s term: Light Railway Transit Line 1 extension, Mactan-Cebu International airport upgrading.

By year 2015, she said most of the big-ticket projects would be in full blast of construction while 2014 would, for some, be the year to raise funds.

Canilao is expecting the rollout of the PPP projects to be faster in these last three years of the Aquino administration, noting that “lessons” had been learned from the first half of the President’s term.

“We’ve done already the setting down of the processes. We’re still improving it but the foundation is already there. During the remainder of the term, hopefully it will be faster. We’re looking at standardizing some of the bid documents so that the bidders, once they receive the drafts, they know what to expect,” Canilao said.

During the forum, when asked by The Asset editor-in-chief Daniel Yu to assess the performance of the government’s PPP program in the first three years, Canilao gave a score of six out of the highest possible score of 10. On rating his department’s infrastructure program, Limcaoco gave a rating of five out of 10.

Canilao said the government was likewise working to amend the build-operate-transfer law to boost the PPP program for the longer haul, no longer for the current pipeline.

“We don’t need it (for this term) but nonetheless, we’re rushing it, hoping that it will be passed by summer recess,” Canilao said.

She said among the most important provisions would be to identify and set parameters for projects of “national significance” as well as to extend the mechanism for Swiss challenge, or the process of inviting counter-proposals to unsolicited projects.

Right now, rival bidders are given 60 days to make a counter offer. “We’re hoping for at least six months,” she said.

At the same time, the amendments call for the creation of a PPP governing board and a legal framework for a PPP Center.

Flexibility is likewise sought on the contingent liability that the government can take in relation to projects in the pipeline, she said.