Tycoons satisfied with business environment
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Some of the country’s most influential business tycoons have expressed satisfaction with the business environment under the Duterte administration, but underscored the urgency of speeding up the implementation of proposed infrastructure projects.

Ports tycoon Enrique Razon said the prevailing environment is conducive for business.

“It’s pretty good. No complaints,” said Razon, who owns and operates global port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) and Solaire Resort & Casino.

He said that if the government’s plan to usher in the so-called golden age of infrastructure pushes through, it would be good for the country.

“If they can execute that in their time frame, then that is very good for the country. There’s no downside to that. Government spending  – always a boost to the economy. I’m optimistic on the players that will be executing the projects,” Razon said.

Asked if he would be interested in joining the government’s unsolicited proposal framework, Razon said that if there is something that is related to his businesses, he could consider it.

Similarly, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and chairman of Ayala Corp. said the country’s oldest conglomerate is bullish on the country’s business climate.

“If you look at the amount of capex we are looking at for this year, it’s an indication of how bullish we are on the economy. The results are good. We are bullish about the economy. We are expanding at a quick rate,” Zobel said.

Ayala Corp. is pouring in P185 billion in capital expenditures this year, higher than the 13 percent allocated in 2016 to support its real estate, telecommunications and water segments as well as to power up its emerging businesses.

The company’s core businesses are Ayala Land, BPI, Globe Telecom, Manila Water and IMI, while new businesses launched in recent years include AC Energy, AC Infra, AC Education, AC Industrials and AC Automotive.

However, Zobel emphasized the need for new infrastructure.

“The only area we really need to emphasize is we need to move fast on infrastructure. We all how know badly needed it is and we all know that these projects can be solved. The projects that have come online recently have already made a huge difference.  The problems can be solved, we just need to get moving on the projects themselves,” Zobel said.

Ayala, through AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. is hitching a ride on the government’s infrastructure push with three big-ticket unsolicited proposals including the P25 billion, 8.6-kilometer elevated tollroad from Sta. Mesa in Manila to the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay and an infrastructure project in Mindanao, company president and CEO Jose Rene Almendras said.

D.M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI), the construction arm of engineering conglomerate DMCI Holdings, is likewise looking for possible technology partners to complement their construction expertise as they prepare for the government’s infrastructure program.

The Duterte administration vowed to usher in what it touts as the golden age of infrastructure, touted as the biggest infrastructure push in Philippine history. The plan is to boost state spending on infrastructure to seven percent of the country’s GDP from five percent at present which would also be a major catalyst for growth.

DMCI President Jorge A. Consunji said they are in talks with potential partners from major players in Asia, Europe and the Middle East who can add value in terms of efficiency, cost design and methodology.

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