Senators say consumers should not shoulder costs of new infra projects

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 03 2015 03:43 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2015 11:43 PM

MANILA – Consumers should not have to shoulder the cost of new infrastructure projects built through the government's cooperation with private companies, senators said Monday.

At a hearing on bills institutionalizing the public-private partnership (PPP) system, Senator Ralph Recto questioned the need for private companies undertaking infrastructure projects to pay government a "premium"-a cost that is passed on to the public. He cited the recent hike in Metro Rail Transit (MRT) fares as an example.

"Ngayon ko lang nakita na mayroong gano'n eh. 'Yon ang dahilan kung bakit tumataas (I saw that just now. That's the reason prices are higher)," Recto told reporters after the hearing. "Syempre babawiin ng private sector 'yon (Of course the private sector would recover that cost)."

Aside from this, Recto said the law should make sure only companies presenting the lowest bids would bag infrastructure projects.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the committee on public works, said the Senate would also like to know from the PPP Center of the Philippines where subsidies for infrastructure projects actually go.

"Ang paliwanag ay hindi ginamit ang subsidy na binigay, hindi ginamit para sa pag-maintain ng pamasahe at sa ibang bagay na ginamit. Saan ginamit ang mga subsidy na 'yon? (The explanation we got is that those subsidies were not used to stabilize fares and were used for other things. Where did the subsidies go?)" Marcos said.

Three bills institutionalizing the PPP and allocating funds for it are pending in the Senate.

For Recto, any law that Congress would pass on the PPP should ultimately benefit the public.

"It is necessary to use the private sector to build more infrastructure," he said. "What I want to do is do not give PPP a bad name. Make it work properly, and it can be done properly."