Business Mirror, 23 December 2014

THE national government is keen on passing the proposed amendments to the build-operate-transfer (BOT) law in the first quarter of 2015.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Public- Private Partnership (PPP) Center Executive Director Cosette V. Canilao said the government is keen on having the amendments passed to institutionalize a number of policies that cover the PPP Program. 

Canilao said the proposed amendments have been endorsed by the PPP Governing Board, which is chaired by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, and the Economic Cluster chaired by Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima. 

“Our aim for next year primarily is to pass the BOT amendment, or what we call the PPP Act, which will institutionalize all those [processes]; strengthen the PPP Program; [and] define the processes and mechanisms we are doing right now,” Canilao said. 

Canilao added that some of the key proposals include the extension of the period for Swiss Challenge to six months from the current two-month period.

The Swiss Challenge will allow other interested parties to outbid the initial project proponent. Projects that have undergone Swiss Challenge include the Metro Rail Transit 7 project.

“Nakikita din namin ’yung disadvantage to the challengers but that’s in the law, and that’s one of the things we are amending in the BOT law. It’s not only the right to match but, I believe, to outbid the [proponent],” Canilao said.

Other proposed amendments include the institutionalization of the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF), the PPP Governing Board and the contingent liability fund. 

These changes were not yet included in the last amendment of the BOT law in 2008. Further, the PPP Center, as an institution, was only put in place in 2010. 

The PDMF is the revolving fund used to finance prefeasibility studies for PPP projects, as well as the hiring of transactional advisers for PPPs. 

The PPP Governing Board, on the other hand, was created in 2013 as the country’s overall policy-making body for all PPP-related matters, including the PDMF. 

Meanwhile, the proposed amendments also include the separation of regulatory and commercial functions of government-owned and -controlled corporations and create a list of projects called “Projects of National Significance.”

By virtue of being included on the list of projects of national significance, projects will be “insulated” from local laws, among others by local government units.

The proposed amendments also include allowing time-bound temporary restraining order (TRO). Canilao said some TROs are open-ended which may affect projects covered by TROs.

The BOT Law is a landmark law signed in 1991 as Republic Act (RA) 6957 and amended in 1994 as RA 7718. It is a key legal framework that authorizes the private sector to enter into agreements with the government to finance, construct, operate and maintain public infrastructure.