The national government is now fine-tuning the framework of cooperation between the state- and-private sector entities for infrastructure projects to ensure the continuity of public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives.

But the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said there’s a need to do so because PPPs have now been included in the list of flagship projects.

“We are seeing already a framework by which we can move forward that’s why the update is not really more on how we are implementing, or how fast we can implement,” Neda Undersecretary Jonathan L. Uy told reporters in an ambush interview in Pasig City on Monday.

“[We are] coming up with a better framework of cooperation between the government and private-sector entities,” Uy added.

Flagship projects are considered game-changing undertakings that will create more jobs, address the country’s infrastructure constraints, and stimulate the economy.

The Neda is currently updating the list of flagship projects, including PPPs and unsolicited projects. Prior to this, the Duterte administration said it was not keen on PPPs due to the time it takes to roll out these projects.

According to Uy the government is still targeting to spend P4.7 trillion or 5 percent of gross domestic product  for flagship projects until 2022.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia earlier said the flagship projects list will be expanded to include a total of 100 projects.

Pernia said smaller projects would take the place of proposed bridges under the state’s P8-trillion infrastructure plan. After the Neda evaluated the flagship projects, it decided to remove some bridges from the list on technological, economic and financial viability reasons.

The bridges taken out of the government’s priority would have connected islands in the Bicol region, Visayas and Mindanao, particularly Samar to Sorsogon, Leyte to Surigao and Cebu to Bohol.

There will be more of the smaller projects, Pernia said, “but still game changing, especially for the regions that will be included, which we did not include in the first list.” Pernia added, “What we have done is take out certain projects that are impossible given the engineering technology [that these require], or maybe the technology [to build them which] we don’t have yet.”

For example, he said, the Matnog, Sorsogon to Samar bridge was found to be “unfeasible from the feasibility study in terms of economic viability and financial viability [so] that was turned down. The Leyte to Surigao long bridge is also very deep, and really just very challenging. Also going to be very costly is the Cebu to Bohol bridge.”

To replaced these, Neda inserted in the government’s flagship list a number of road projects being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways. Although these roads are smaller in scale—and most likely in cost—than the bridges, Pernia said their impact to the economy is still “game changing.”

The addition of these road projects will bring the number of priority infrastructure under the Build, Build, Build program to about 100, from just 75 at present.

By Cai Ordinario