Philippines’ tycoons submit infra policy wish list to Bongbong Marcos


President  Ferdinand Marcos Jr.  discusses with Cabinet officials and the Private Sector Advisory Council Infrastructure Sector various infrastructure programs under his administration.  The meeting held on March 9, 2023 at Malacañang. –PCO photo

MANILA, Philippines  – Expedite the evaluation of public-private partnership (PPP) projects. Develop a new international port in Iloilo. Adopt a water tariff system based on affordability. Connect small power utilities to the national grid.

These were among the additional ideas to spur infrastructure development submitted by the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) chaired by Aboitiz Group CEO Sabin Aboitiz to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in a meeting on March 9.

The new PSAC Infrastructure Sector recommendations covered five crucial areas: water, transport and mobility, logistics, energy and PPP, the group said in a statement.

“I’m happy to note that the recommendations that were given us by the Private Sector Advisory Council were essentially many of the things that we were already doing,” the President said.  “And in fact, the list of recommendations that they gave, I would say half of them, are either in progress or have been completed. So we are once again moving in the right direction together with our private sector partners,” he added.

During the meeting, Metro Pacific Investments chief Manuel Pangilinan underscored various challenges to clean water accessibility during the meeting, from the overdependence on groundwater to the highly fragmented governance structure.

PSAC Infrastructure Sector thus recommended that the bill mandating the creation of the Department of Water Resources be certified as urgent. The group also suggested the adoption of an Integrated Water Resources Management Program alongside the creation of a National Water Resources Management Office.

In response, Marcos said the government would create an interim water body.

The group also recommended increasing funding support for water projects and sewage treatment, while also incentivizing the private sector to invest. PSAC also recommended the adoption of a water tariff based on affordability instead of a straight-line cost per cubic meter.

On transport and mobility, PSAC sees low-hanging fruit from the rehabilitation of Ninoy Aquino International Airport through PPP and the expedition of the award process of projects with original proponent status this 2023. It also proposed the development of an aerodrome strategy and airport master plan.

On logistics, PSAC recommended that key Philippine Port Authority assets be identified and developed into regional hubs capable of handling international cargo.

Tycoon Enrique Razon, for his part, suggested that the Iloilo port be developed into another international port. This is seen to reduced cost and time to market for imports, as well as provide the local agricultural industry with direct global access.

On energy, PSAC recommended strengthening local government units to facilitate and implement energy projects.

For the medium- and long-term, it also recommended rationalizing secondary price caps in order to open up new investments, factoring in prevailing market conditions.

It also proposed connecting the Small Power Utility Groups (SPUGs) to the grid. For PPP, the group suggested an expedited evaluation of PPP projects from a six-step to a four-step process through a streamlined government evaluation and endorsement process.

PSAC was established by the President to “create and strengthen innovative new synergies between the private and public sectors.”

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