June 3, 2011 Inquirer
President Benigno S. Aquino III is working hard to push his year-old Public Private Partnership program to help bankroll the financial requirements of various infrastructure projects badly needed by the country to uplift its image as an alternative investment destination, “ said Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Speaking at Inquirer Radio’s ‘Tapatan’ program, Lacierda said the “dearth” in infrastructure projects, such as those in the transportation sector, is being addressed by the PPP since under the program, the public sector would be assisted in funding these projects by the private sector.
“The President is very keen on several infrastructure projects, particularly the light rail systems in three directions to have greater mobility between these places, and the center of economic activity in the Philippines,” Lacierda added.
Aside from this, the presidential spokesman identified “ports for both air and sea to cover the vast expanse of the country as well as various energy projects and dams are some of the sectors we will be focusing on.”
“To my knowledge, PPP program is currently focusing on the privatization of the operation and maintenance of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 and of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, LRT 1 south extension and privatization, LRT Line 2 East extension project, and the development of several key airports in the Visayas and Mindanao, like Bohol and Puerto Princesa,” Lacierda volunteered.
Lacierda added that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is also is pushing for the financing of the 27.5-kilometer Cavite side section of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway Phase II.
He estimated that for these projects, the government will have to earmark around $1.3 billion, while the private sector is being targeted to cough up at least $1 billion.
“While the administration has lined up at least 10 projects for initial funding of the private sector, we are still enticing other local, as well as foreign investors, to bid for other projects of the government,” he revealed.
To entice investors, Lacierda pointed out that the government has ‘rationalized’ the investment rules and tax holidays under the PPP.
“The president’s instructions are quite explicit: we have to level the playing the field for all investors,” Lacierda said. “For example, we’ve done away with the practice of unsolicited bids which the last administration encouraged. Meaning, it is now the government which crafts the feasibility studies, so when we open bidding, everything is transparent. Legitimate investors like this,”
In a related development, Lacierda insisted in ‘Tapatan’ that the opening of the country’s sky to international aviation industry will definitely provide opportunities for them that will redound to further boost the country’s tourism industry and the economy.
He echoed President Aquino’s view the ‘open sky’ policy, once implemented “would benefit more visitors from neighboring countries who will be travelling to the Philippines.”
“The President is very much aware of the concerns of our local carriers and he has consistently assured them that as we liberalize aviation, it will be undertaken in a way that will open up opportunities for competitive and world class domestic carriers like the Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines,” he averred.
“Once implemented, we expect more international airlines to enter the market. Aside from opening our doors to more visitors that will strengthen our tourism, this will also allow us to enjoy a free market for products to further boost our economy. This, of course, will redound to thousands of additional jobs, which in turn will provide decent living to many Filipino families,” he explained.