Spanish group eyes part in PPP

By Recto Mercene, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jan 29 2013 08:31 AM | Updated as of Jan 29 2013 04:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A 30-member Spanish delegation arrived in Manila on Monday to seek participation in public-private partnership (PPP) projects, especially in power generation, water supply and tourism.

Some members said they would also like to participate in education, culture and disaster prevention.

The lead group is Tribuna España-Filipinas, which will hold a conference at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati today.

Jose Luis Martin, head of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation said that despite Spain’s budgetary constraints, officials believe future cooperation with the Philippines must be maintained.

“We decided to walk away from other Asian countries, but our relations with the Philippines would not only be maintained but strengthened,” he said during a press conference in Makati.

He said in the past five years, Spain’s aid to the Philippines has amounted to €189 million, up from €30 million in 2011.

He said he hope this year’s level of disbursement would reach €50 million, while finding ways to explore PPP projects and looking for new partners, most especially in infrastructure and tourism.

Moreno said the group would like to strengthen economic ties with different sectors where its presence in the PPP projects would be felt, such as water for sustainable development and others projects, including investing in runways, renewable energy.

Although the delegation acknowledged that funding for renewable energy like wind farms would be difficult at this time, Spain, which is No. 1 in Europe in the production of wind power and the No. 4 worldwide in terms of installed capacity, could lend its expertise in this area.

Told that the Philippines might need more power in the short term to provide energy for its growing needs, Moreno said they have the expertise to provide what the Philippines needs if they could come to an agreement in any of the PPP projects of the administration.

The world’s largest offshore wind farm in deep water is being built by a Spanish company.

Instituto Cervantes Secretary-General Rafael Rodriguez-Ponga said they aim to internationalize some big Spanish companies to develop tourism between Spain and the Philippines, noting that although they had 58 million tourists last year, only a handful, about 40,000 came from Asia and less than that from Manila.

Spain received 125,000 tourists from Beijing, and about one million from Japan. With a population of 48 million, Spain has the second-largest tourist receipt in the world, amounting to €55 billion. It employs 12 percent of its work force, and 14 percent of its income from tourism answers 125 percent of its commercial deficit.

At present there is no direct link between Manila and Madrid and the visiting officials hinted of possible flights between the two cities.

He said Spain would like to receive more tourists from Asia and the Philippines and, in return, it would like to have a solid presence in the country.

Although the Philippines and Spain are separated by distance, he said there are many cultural, historical and linguistic heritages that link the two countries.

Spain, he said, is offering to help in the development of many spots in the Philippines, such as Manila, Intramuros, El Nido, Baler and many other places to attract Spaniards to come here.

Spain is also promoting the teaching of Spanish in the Philippines to broaden contact with Spanish nationals, who have no difficulty communicating with some South American countries, who speak their language fluently.

In an earlier statement, Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Domecq said many partnerships continue to exist between the two countries as a result of previous dialogues. He cited memorandums of understanding signed between the two countries on education and sports.

Domecq said Spain is fully supporting the country’s drive to restore historical architecture in various parts of the country by actively consulting with local governments that wish to develop heritage tourism in their localities and funding facilities that equip Filipinos with the proper skills to restore such architecture such as the Esquella Taller in Intramuros, Manila.

In recent years, the partnership between the two countries has resulted in over $300 million worth of trade in imports and exports, foreign direct investments of roughly $57 million in 2010, ODA of P91 million in 2011, $1.3 million in grants, $2.48 million in loans, as well an increasing number of tourist arrivals from Spain which reached 15,000 in 2012 alone.