More PPP opportunities open in regions – NEDA
(The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — More opportunities for private sector participation in infrastructure projects in the regions would be opened up in line with the government’s push to fasttrack the delivery of projects, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

As most flagship infrastructure projects are still lined up for funding or co-financing via official development assistance (ODA) and general appropriations, the socioeconomic planning agency said it would work with the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center in reviewing the regional development investment programs (RDIPs) of NEDA regional offices to determine projects that can be delivered as PPPs.

This follows the launch of PPP Knowledge Corners in almost all NEDA regional offices this year. These are information hubs manned by focal persons for PPPs who can answer PPP-related questions from stakeholders and advise them on the processes in involved in pursuing PPP projects.

“NEDA will create opportunities for PPPs in the region. We’ve launched PPP Knowledge Corners and so the next step for us in NEDA, particularly the regional development office, is to screen the list of projects in the RDIPs for all the regions and we will check which of these can be pursued as PPPs,” said NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro.

“So that will create opportunities for our private sector partners to go into the regions,” she added.

Navarro said NEDA is also planning to hold a series of fora on PPP in the regions to communicate opportunities to the private sector.

“We will explain among those identified as priorities in the RDIPs which are potential PPPs. So that kind of provision of opportunities will happen,” she said.

Several regional PPP projects are now moving steadily in the project cycle, Navarro noted. These include the Cebu Solid Waste Management Program that is now under development, the Pampanga Bulk Water Supply Project that is slated for negotiation, as well as the Cagayan de Oro Septage Management Project and the Baggao Water Supply project, both of which are under procurement.

The country’s economic managers seem to be opening more windows for participation for the private sector in the ambitious Build Build Build program.

In the second half of 2017, the PPP Center announced it would be more aggressive in facilitating the use of the PPP mode of procurement in LGUs as the national government leans toward the use of official development assistance (ODA) and own funds for big-ticket infrastructure projects.

On Wednesday, however, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said there has been a concensus among economic managers to entertain possible shifts from ODA financing to other modes of project financing and delivery if the processing of ODA loans take too long. This is ultimately meant to fasttrack the delivery of projects within President Duterte’s term.

The processing of ODA loans typically take months, even years because of differing bureaucratic processes in ODA donor countries.

As such, Pernia said the government is prepared to change the financing of projects originally meant for ODA financing “as deemed necessary.”

“We are also diversifying our funding sources as much as possible to the extent that we can handle it with local funds,” he said. “We are also discussing among ourselves that if there are too many delays from a particular funding source, we are going to give them a deadline so that, if they cannot fullfill their commitment on time then we will shift to another funding source.”

“Our list of projects, flagship and non-flagship, can be opened to expressions of interest from the private sector,” said Pernia. “We will see how things go and it will be a judgement call on the part of the economic managers.”

Pernia, noted, however, that ODA financing remains to be an important financing component of the government’s Build Build Build program.

The government on Wednesday expressed confidence it would be able to deliver around half of the 75 flagship projects identified in 2017.

At least 35 flagship infrastructure projects cleared by the NEDA Board are expected to move into the construction phase of the project cycle within the current administration, with 32 expected to be completed by 2022.

These include connective infrastructure such as airports, road, bridges, a subway and railways.

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