Purisima says PPP on track despite delays; asks for positive outlook

by Coco Alcuaz, ANC

Posted at Jul 13 2011 06:12 PM | Updated as of Jul 14 2011 02:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on Wednesday reiterated that the government will put 10 public-private partnerships (PPP) on track this year even after the first was suspended.

Purisima appealed for press and public to focus on what has been achieved -- such as debt rating upgrades -- rather than on what has not yet been accomplished.

After taking office last year, the government said it would bid out 10 contracts this year -- and more in succeeding years -- as a way to ramp up infrastructure for free. Earlier this year, it scheduled the first bidding for the contract to operate the Metro Rail Transit 3 and Light Rail Transit 1 for July 11, two days ago.

This was shelved after Transport Secretary Jose "Ping" de Jesus resigned and Mar Roxas took over. Roxas said he needed to review the operation because the government may not need to privatize it at all.

The delay has raised concerns other contracts will be delayed as well, reducing the potential contribution to the economy.

"It will happen," Purisima said at a forum of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines.

"It's only a question of doing our homework. It's taking much longer than we expected to do the feasibility study to make sure that when we bid it out the bidding specifications have been properly thought through, the value proposition has been properly thought through, that that sharing of the risk between the public and private sector has been thought through."

"We are confident that this PPP program will take off. We are committed to it, we are committed to reducing the infrastructure gap between the Philippines and our neighbors."

Purisima said the government is taking steps to ensure there will be long-term financing and an appropriate regulatory system for infrastructure projects. This includes amending the build-operate-transfer law, he said.

"We’ve had some delays but we are committed to executing 10 projects this year. We still have six months."

"President Aquino is focusing on making sure that we build the right foundations. So that we do it right, that we do not rush simply because the press or the public is impatient."

Bankers including BDO Capital’s Ed Francisco and Citibank's Sanjiv Vohra said they are ready to provide advisory services now, and fund raising services once the projects are awarded.