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Next NEDA chief favors more PPP projects

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Incoming Socioeconomic Planning chief Arsenio Balisacan, like incoming Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, favors pursuing more public-private partnerships (PPP) in the next six years.

Balisacan, who served the same position under the late former president Benigno Aquino III, said reinvigorating PPP would “address the fiscal bind.”

“We will reach out to the private sector because we believe that the private sector plays a very strong role in economic development. It is my firm view that without the private sector we can’t really expect to go far,” he said in a separate interview.

He also proposed to revive the country’s manufacturing sector, believing that this would reduce the poverty rate, address socioeconomic inequities and accelerate growth.

“The lesson of recent history is if you have a robust manufacturing sector in the early stages of your development, poverty reduction is so fast and is likely sustainable,” he said.

Diokno, on the other hand, said foreign investors can participate in the “more than 80 implementation-ready projects” that the Duterte administration is leaving to the next government.

‘Independent’ economic team

For the incoming Finance chief, Marcos should not “micromanage” his economic team.

“Being a president, you should not micromanage. That’s why you have a Cabinet. You choose the best and the brightest. You empower them so that you won’t be burdened by all the problems in the world,” Diokno said.

“So, the best and the brightest strong cabinet. I think that works, but if you micromanage, that will be your downfall,” he added.

However, among the “high priorities” president-in-waiting Bongbong Marcos has particularly asked his economic team was to digitize government transactions, according to Balisacan.

He said Marcos wants to digitize government transactions to help address issues and corruption in government and address concerns of lagging digitization of potential investors.

Build, Build, Build

Meanwhile, Incoming public works chief Manuel “Manny” Bonoan eyes to finish the infrastructure projects under the Duterte administration’s flagship “Build, Build, Build” program “at the shortest possible time.”

“We will continue with the ‘Build, Build, Build.’ We will finish the remaining projects of the outgoing administration,” Bonoan said in a radio interview on Friday.

“Then we will look at the pipeline and see the infrastructure programs with high impact that will immediately contribute the economic recovery,” he added.

Under his leadership, Bonoan said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be “selective” and “strategic” in its infrastructure projects.

He said he will prioritize projects that would best address and support traffic mobility in urban areas as well as those who would boost agriculture production and domestic tourism.

“Having been in the private sector, we have been working together with the contractor closely. We have to be strict with the cost of the project,” he said.

“To me I think it’s a matter of rationalizing project costing to be able to respond to the demands,” he added.

Under his watch, Bonoan said DPWH will not come up with band-aid solutions and would focus on creating permanent solutions.

Bonoan, the incumbent San Miguel Corporation Tollways president and chief executive officer, said SMC president Ramon Ang allowed him to join Marcos’ Cabinet, believing that he can contribute his expertise in helping the Filipinos recover from the pandemic.

Bonoan stressed that he spent most time of his professional career in the DPWH, recalling that it was the incoming president’s father, the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who first appointed him to the agency.

The “Build, Build, Build” program is the centerpiece program of the Duterte administration that aims to usher the “Golden age of infrastructure” in the Philippines.

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