Interview: Cosette Canilao
To what extent can the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF) fast-track the bidding process while ensuring the viability of projects?
COSETTE CANILAO: The PDMF lies at the very heart of the PPP programme in the Philippines, as it can augment the capacity of implementing agencies to roll out PPP projects. Through the PDMF, the PPP Centre will be able to hire reputable consultants and transaction advisers to help the implementing agencies.
This will enable the fast-tracking of the bidding process, allowing us to have a feasibility study on which to base our estimates and our terms of reference before the request for proposals is published. This is a critical component of the PPP programme, which we want to see institutionalised in the amendments to the build-operate-transfer law. As a result of the PDMF, a firm list of projects is being planned, as compared to when the PPP programme was first launched.
Which PPP projects can improve infrastructure in anticipation of the impending launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015?
CANILAO: One of our principal missions is to make the country competitive following the launch of the AEC next year. After President Benigno Aquino’s administration came into office, one of its primary agenda goals was to improve infrastructure development so as to achieve sustainable inclusive growth. As of now, almost all projects that we have under way are road projects that are forecast to reduce the freight costs of goods, while improving competitiveness. Moreover, new rail transit lines will also improve travel times, while airport projects will also boost economic competitiveness in comparison to that of our neighbours.
Through the PPP programme and the government’s infrastructure procurement budget, we are hoping to increase infrastructure expenditure to 5% of GDP by 2016. In addition to traditional and hard infrastructure projects, we have undertaken social infrastructure developments through PPPs, such as the construction of classrooms for the Department of Education. Of the seven projects awarded so far, two were awarded for the construction of classrooms, and another went towards the modernisation of an orthopaedic centre.
What role can foreign participants play in implementing and delivering PPPs through the transfer of international expertise and competence?
CANILAO: Their role is twofold: first, through the PDMF, we hire reputable international consultants and transaction advisers. These are then able to partner with local advisers and contribute to the mutual exchange of technology and specialist knowledge to help all parties concerned. Second, for PPP projects themselves, foreign participants can contribute to the operation and maintenance of our infrastructure or utilities, while they can also participate in construction activities or the transfer of technology and innovation.
How can local government units (LGUs) be encouraged to participate in PPP projects in a way that could contribute to overall growth?
CANILAO: LGUs have already played a critical role in facilitating inclusive growth, and one of the goals of the PPP programme is to align the partnership scheme with the LGUs. From the PPP Centre, we have conducted capacity development training, in addition to coming out with a manual to help LGUs with their work, in particular for simpler projects that they can roll out with the assistance of a PPP scheme.
We are currently also in the early stages of exploring a new strategy that could further improve the ability of LGUs to undertake PPPs, namely through an internship programme under which LGUs would be able to choose some of their projects. Indeed, the PPP Centre works alongside them to develop projects, from the initial feasibility study all the way through to bidding and implementation. Moreover, we are training schools and other local institutions so they can provide local consultancy to LGUs for their PPP projects.
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