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An Independent View
Monday, April 21, 2014
LAST week’s announcement that the government plans to invite bids for 15 projects worth a total of $14 billion (P630 billion) under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program over the next 12 months is welcome.
The PPP program was announced with great fanfare in 2010 but it has not been successful due mainly to an inadequate dialogue between the public and private sectors.
We believe that recently-appointed PPP Center executive director Cosette Camilao will improve the dialogue and, hopefully, engender bids from the private sector which will improve our sub-standard infrastructure.
Of particular local interest is a contract giving to the private sector responsibility for the operation, maintenance, and commercial management of Bacolod-Silay airport, including future investments for capacity expansion. This project is valued at $208.98 million (roughly P10 billion). Does this mean that the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine (CIQ) work will be part of, and therefore not implemented before, the PPP project? This would be disappointing for Congressman Leonardia who has been making frequent representations for CIQ facilities for the past year or so.
Iloilo airport will have an analogous project which is valued at $322.34 million (around P14 billion).
Will the private sector be interested in PPP projects for Bacolod-Silay and Iloilo airports? We hope that any concerns will be publicly aired, otherwise Bacolod-Silay airport will be a second tier provincial backwater for many years to come. The excellent work done by our tourism representatives will continue to be offset by our inadequate infrastructure. The majority of the PPP projects, however, are designed to improve transportation infrastructure in Luzon including $6.03 billion (P270 billion) for the Integrated Luzon Railway Project Phase 1.
Whilst we do not begrudge so many infrastructure projects in Luzon, since fighting poverty is one of the platforms of the Liberal Party and since there is much poverty in Visayas and Mindanao, we would have liked to have seen plans for more infrastructure in Western Visayas regions and above. This is because good infrastructure is, in itself, an effective opponent of poverty.
We hope the private sector will be able to have a productive dialogue with those in government responsible for PPP projects so that the identified projects may be implemented speedily.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 21, 2014.