House technical panel crafts bill to modernize ‘Build, Build, Build’

MANILA The House Public Works Committee's technical working group (TWG) has recently finalized the substitute bill for the proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP) Rationalization Act, designed to support President Rodrigo R. Duterte's Build, Build, Build program.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the technical panel and authored one of the original PPPRA bills, said the measure seeks to institutionalize and strengthen public-private partnership in infrastructure and development projects, the value of PPPs in delivering the country's infrastructure requirements and utilizing the efficiencies of private sector participation is crucial to the success of the 'Build, Build, Build program.

We need enormous investments, resources, and innovation from the private sector. We will translate these PPP opportunities into more jobs, improved competitiveness, and higher economic growth. Now is indeed the time to forge more public-private partnerships to deliver critical projects that will usher the country's Golden Age of Infrastructure," he said.

Salceda said the bill proposes major reforms to help boost the PPP program, among them, providing clearer and simpler rules for faster project implementation to foster competition, which is what the government needs as it rolls out big-ticket projects.

It sets clearer parameters on government undertakings and investment recovery schemes, procedures on project approval and procurement, fiscal rules on contingent liabilities, and other vital concerns.

The substitute bill consolidated the salient features from separate proposals filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Reps. Sonny Belmonte, Miro Quimbo, Romeo Acop, Vilma Santos-Recto, Gary Alejano, Manuel Lopez, Luis Raymond Villafuerte and Salceda himself, who explained the new bill is a product of the government's learning experience in doing PPPs for the past decades, and will accelerate the implementation of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, under which giant transport and industrial projects are listed.

The measure, he said, aims to promote public infrastructure financing by including joint ventures as PPP variants, opening capital markets for the financing of PPP projects in addition to equity and loans, and defining the roles and participation of LGUs in PPPs.

It will likewise encourage foreign investments in public infrastructure in view of the upcoming approval of the proposed amendments to the Public Service Act, a bill he also authored.

To enhance fair competition and protect public interest, he said the PPP bill proposes to improve the framework on unsolicited PPP projects by allowing private sector proposals for projects under the government's priority list and by providing for a more competitive challenge process.

Such measures are expected to address the issues and challenges faced by the government in handling unsolicited proposals by striking a balance between fast-tracking the processing of unsolicited proposals and ensuring that the competition generates the best offer favorable to the public.

Since the amendment of Republic Act No. 6957 in 1994 by RA No.7718, the Build, Operate and Transfer has remained unchanged, with only its Implementing Rules and Regulations having undergone revision in 2012, hence the urgent need to update the existing law by instituting critical reforms, incorporating the lessons learned from the past, and adopting the best practices as currently observed.

Under the ambitious Build, Build, Build program, the government plans to build at least 75 flagship projects worth some USD180 billion in the next 10 years.

The projects include airports, railways, road networks and bridges, and seaports seen to make more efficient the movement of people and goods, bring down production costs, improve rural income, encourage countryside investments, and create more jobs.

Also on the drawing board are four energy facilities for stable power supply at lower prices; 10 water resource projects as well as irrigation systems to raise agricultural output; five flood control facilities for vulnerable communities to boost their resilience against the impact of climate change; and three redevelopment programs to meet and sustain the needs of urban population. (Johnny C. Nunez/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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