Infra development key to LGUs progress

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBBM FACEBOOK PPPs tapped as Internet booster President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos wanted to tap the best minds to make the Philippines the technology center of the region starting with an efficient and fast Internet service.

The Marcos administration’s thrust towards progress has envisioned a whole of nation approach that will leave no sectors behind as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has vowed to pursue more ambitious projects, especially in the infrastructure sector, for the Filipinos.

Recently, the President has urged local government units to consider public-private partnership as a mode of financing projects for their constituents, a mere realization that the LGUs have a pivotal role in nation building.

“I think this is the way forward, and I encourage all our local government units to be open to the possibilities of PPPs and to PPPs, especially in your areas,” Marcos said, adding that digitalization would play a big part in PPP, especially in pushing for economic recovery and digital transformation in the Philippines.

Apart from pushing for digitalization, the President emphasized that his administration would also put increased focus on infrastructure, as he noted that several countries have offered their support for his infrastructure program.

“There are also many opportunities, especially in infrastructure. Many of our friends from different countries – especially those who paid courtesy calls to us – they offered a lot of help,” said Marcos.

The President also revealed that he had received offers to fund the government’s big-ticket projects, including official development assistance and joint ventures.

“There’s ODA, private sector, joint venture… Well, you’re local government, you know that already. Local government generally cannot do it by itself. We have to find partners, we have to find local partners, we have to find investors. You’re used to that,” Marcos said.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said the PPP scheme was not maximized during the Duterte administration as there were no available projects that were ready for implementation.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte reportedly had signed just six PPPs since 2016, while his predecessor, the late Benigno Aquino III, approved a total of 17 during the latter’s presidency.

In the recent signing of two contracts related to the Metro Manila Subway Project at Malacañang, the President said the government owes it to the Filipino people to build major roads and critical infrastructure that will not only spur progress and social change, but also promote interconnectivity, ease traffic, and reduce travel time.

The signing of two contracts for the civil works of four stations of the Metro Manila Subway-Contract Packages 102 (CP102) and 103 (CP103) is expected to boost the country’s mass transport system – an infrastructure development that was merely a dream a few years ago.

Expected to be finished in 2028, the Metro Manila Subway can accommodate more than half a million commuters per day and it will lessen the travel time from Quezon City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to just 45 minutes.

The local government of Quezon City, on the other hand, has committed to work closely with stakeholders in facilitating the processing of all needed documents for this project such as permits, as well as to provide all manpower resources needed.

Digital infrastructures a must

During his first State of the Nation Address on 27 July, Marcos bared the government’s bid to increase digital connectivity in the Philippines through the so-called “Broad Band ng Masa” project.
The President has ordered Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan Uy to deploy digital connectivity across the country’s various islands.
Meanwhile, Marcos will “find a solution” on how the government will implement the Mandanas ruling amid less government revenue at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

PPP as key booster

As the years pass, more local government units are expressing interest in pursuing projects through public-private partnership by reaching out to the government for technical assistance.

To recall, three LGUs recently signed with the PPP Center a memorandum of agreement for collaboration in terms of project assistance, capacity building, and drafting or review of PPP/joint venture ordinance, policies and guidelines.

These agreements also outline the duties and responsibilities of both parties during the course of PPP project development and implementation.

The government is offering to the private sector the rehabilitation of the Kennon Road leading up to Baguio City to help boost tourism activities in the city.

Previously, the PPP Center supported the conduct of a market sounding exercise for the improvement, operation, and maintenance of the 115-year-old toll road that is now prone to landslides.

This was meant to ascertain the level of interest, capability, and experience of the private sector top undertake the project as well as to obtain suggestions from the private sector in the best methodology to be used for the project as well as possible alternative alignments before it is offered as a solicited PPP project.

PPP projects at the local government level are expected to take off next year as the implementation of the Local PPP strategy continues to gain momentum.

More local implementing bodies are now undertaking PPP projects as a result of capacity building and technical assistance provided under the strategy.

These include local government units, water districts, state universities and colleges, special economic zones, and Tourism Enterprise Zones to help generate more bankable PPPs at the local level.

The PPP route has become fashionable for many developing countries, especially those which struggle to collect enough funds for their public goods and services investments.

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