Source:  Business World, 05 December 2011

PUBLIC-PRIVATE partnerships (PPP) with British investors were encouraged by both local and foreign officials yesterday, highlighting the Philippines’ promising efforts in good governance and economic development.

Jeremy Browne, Minister of State of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, led the United Kingdom’s second infrastructure investment mission this year in a bid to promote the country’s expertise in using PPPs to improve health, education and transport services.

The British official, however, stressed the need for clarity and transparency in conducting such partnerships, a concern which investors brought up at a forum with local government agencies on the country’s priority infrastructure projects.

“[C]ertainly this is a country with real critical mass for investors. A large country, a very wide English-speaking country, a country with global outlook. I want more and more British business people to come to countries like the Philippines to invest and see what opportunities exist,” Mr. Browne told officials at the forum.

“I very much welcome the Philippines’ standing on PPP and am delighted that this infrastructure investment mission will help deliver on our commitment to support the Philippines in this area. It is also important for the Philippines to deliver much-needed infrastructure investments through clear and transparent processes,” he said later on in a statement.

The two-part mission was the result of Trade Undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio’s investment promotion visit to the United Kingdom Trade & Investments headquarters in London in March, noted Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo in his keynote speech.

The Philippines, he added, currently has a business environment that has “never been as progressive and conducive as it is today with President [Benigno S. C. Aquino III] at the helm because of his focus in good governance,” Mr. Domingo said.

“The Philippines, as we’ve said before, is ready and open for business, and the UK is an important investment and trade partner. There is much room for growth in business interest because the UK has competitive advantage in many sectors,” he added.

The second leg of the mission, which included 10 visiting British firms, was a briefing on the country’s planned PPPs in roadworks, health care facilities, and public school classrooms. Officials from the PPP Center, state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Ayala-led Manila Water Co., Inc. presented the projects together with resource persons from the Trade, Public Works and Health departments.

PPP projects highlighted at the forum included the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways connector road under the Public Works department, the 70,000 classrooms needed by the Education department, and the Vaccine Self-Sufficiency Project by the Health department. — Eliza J. Diaz