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PPP projects a way to go to make PHL more attractive to foreign investors

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Foreign businessmen will be attracted to invest more in the Philippines if the government speeds up the bidding and implementation of the projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) program.

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) president Hubert d’Aboville told PNA that the government needs “to truly open up” to increase foreign investments in the country.

He explained that “(there should be) no more chip in the shoulder” and instead “accelerate PPPs and facilitate foreign investments.”

“This will help the country to catch up with its dramatic lack of infrastructure and will create the jobs we so badly need particularly in the countryside,” he stressed.

In 2011, the government announced 10 projects under the PPP program but has, to date. successfully bidded out one project – the Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway Project, which was awarded to Ayala Corporation.

This year, the government aims to bid out at least eight projects.

Last June, the Department of Telecommunications and Communications (DOTC) published its invitation for interested parties to pre-qualify for the bidding of the P30-billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 extension contract.

The project aims to extend by 12 kilometers (km) the 21-km Roosevelt-Baclaran line to Cavite.

Other projects included in the PPP program are the construction of a road that will connect the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), the operation and maintenance of the LRT Line 2, the Laguindingan Airport and the Puerto Princesa Airport; construction of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal building, and the School Infrastructure project.

Recently, the Aquino administration was criticized for seeming lack of policy that is supportive of foreign investors citing among others the high cost of electricity.

Is the government really driving away investors by not putting in place measures that will help foreign businesses expand in the Philippines?

However, d’Aboville said making the Philippines conducive for foreign investments is not just a job for the government but the private sector as well.

He pointed out that the high electricity cost in the country is already given and businessmen should not consider this issue a problem that the government should solve alone.

“This is a fight that has to be given solution with by the government and the private sector. We must combine our efforts,” he said.

D’Aboville said the key to this problem is to use electricity efficiently and be on the saving mode.

He explained that there are technologies that maximize electricity use without putting additional expense on the business.

He cited as an example using double-pane window on buildings, which is more energy efficient because it requires less energy compared to the traditional single-pane windows.

“We are not happy that electricity is very expensive but we have technologies today that substantially reduce our bills. We can save by going the right investment,” he said.

The ECCP chief said the government through the Department of Energy (DOE) is very supportive of measures and programs aimed at increasing energy efficiency.

“The government is in line with us,” he said.

Relatively, d’Aboville said that when foreign investors decide to operate in another country, other considerations are whether the government follows the sanctity of contract for long-term investment and whether there is consistency between the policies of the local government and the national government.

He noted that the Constitution gives local government rights in their jurisdiction but stressed that there should be a “clear cut rule that national government prevails and local government will not in any way derail any project,” he said.

“Local governments should still be associated but we must have stability and coherence,” he added. (PNA)

By Joann Santiago




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