Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has boldly predicted that the Aquino administration will surpass “by a mile” the achievements of the Arroyo administration in terms of infrastructure development.
Purisima made the statement during a briefing on the forthcoming public-private partnership (PPP) projects summit, when asked whether the PPP framework, to be unveiled at the summit, would boost the government’s confidence in exceeding the much-vaunted achievements of the Arroyo administration on infrastructure development.
“I’m confident that if we do things the right way, if we have a level playing field, predictable regulatory environment, simpler business processes, a government that’s friendly to business and to the people, I am very confident we will not only exceed but will beat it by a mile,” he said.
Purisima said that the full potential of the Philippines has been left unrealized due to corruption, red tape, the “wrong policies, and because of lack of investment in infrastructure that has made us less competitive.”
“If we address these three things, you’d be surprised what [we] can accomplish. It’s less the government; it’s the private sector that really make things happen, which is to provide the environment. And that is what we are trying to do—make the Philippines more friendly, making things happen,” he said.
Purisima said that during the infrastructure summit, the government will announce a new framework “under which we plan to attract private capital as well as expertise” and an initial 10 projects.
He said that focus would be on tourism, the food-supply chain and general infrastructure “to make our cities more livable and more competitive.”
“Everything will be done in broad daylight. There will be no midnight deals; there will be no backroom deal. Everything will be transparent. And that’s why the focus will be on solicited projects rather than unsolicited projects,” he said.
Purisima and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said all the projects are undergoing full feasibility study to determine the risks involved in them.
Asked about participation in the conference, Purisima expressed confidence the government “will be attracting the right people to the conference.”
He also said the government can guarantee potential investors a “level playing field, that everything will be transparent, that they will get all the support from the Aquino administration.”
“We will make it easier for them to do business in the Philippines as compared to the past. We will hold their hands and the whole Cabinet has been working as a team and we are working with the local governments, as well. So, that is a guarantee that we can give you,” Purisima said.
He is also not worried about a similar venture being undertaken by the Malaysian government, citing, among other things, that “the Philippine market is bigger than that of Malaysia—we are close to 100 million people; Malaysia is, [about] 20-plus million people.”
“In terms of market opportunities, the Philippine is bigger. The infrastructure situation in the country is not as advanced of that Malaysia. In our case, the needs are more obvious and there are more opportunities. I believe and I think our framework is very competitive,” Purisima said.