Aquino trumpets PPP gains at Brussels conference

by Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2014 11:03 AM | Updated as of Sep 17 2014 07:03 PM

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - President Benigno Aquino III trumpeted the gains of his administration's public private partnership program before the European community.

Speaking at the Conference on PPP Program For Infrastructure Projects In The Republic of the Philippines, Aquino said his administration has been able to award and sign off on 8 PPP projects, valued at P62.6 billion or around $1.3 billion, from December 2011 to September 2014.

"Under our administration, we get the infrastructure we need quicker than if we remained reliant on our budget process. On top of that, investors can see a clear potential for profitability, so much so that they provide incentives for government in the form of premiums. The state is thus afforded the best possible bid because of a level playing field, which engenders fair competition among interested parties" said Aquino.

The President attributed the gains to the efforts of his administration, which he says investors have seen a government dedicated to integrity and public service.

He said PPPs are regarded as ideal ventures precisely because all parties can benefit from them: private enterprise can profit by putting their expertise and knowledge to good use; government is able to complete large-scale projects at a more opportune time for the people.

"Unfortunately, for the past three administrations, the scales were unbalanced: every incentive was seemingly put on the table just to be able to attract investors-from commercial development rights, to subsidies. Not to mention the fact that only six solicited projects were awarded in the 18 years before we entered office in 2010," Aquino said, taking a swipe at his predecessors.

Aquino said it was no easy task when he did the first pitch for PPP in November 2010.

"We understood the apprehension that businesses must have felt at the time, given my predecessor's reputation, borne of constant allegations of wrongdoing. In 2010, the only reassurance we could give was the promise of integrity: that, under our watch, the playing field would be level, and that the Aquino administration would render true public service-by empowering our people, by harnessing their optimism and solidarity towards equitable progress, and by working with the private sector to change the landscape of the Philippines," he said.

He assured that the promises his administration has made to business and to the Filipino people were promises that they intend to fulfill -- through good governance, transparency, and accountability.

He highlighted his administration's zero-based budgeting to eliminate ineffective program and strengthen institutions that were weakened by corruption and impunity.

Aquino said agencies' performance targets are now detailed to the finest extent possible in their budgets, in order to demonstrate their transparency and the eventual accountability of the agency to the Filipino people.

"Streamlining the procurement process in each government agency allowed us to cut waste further. Meanwhile, prudent management gave us even more fiscal space to make greater investments in social services and in infrastructure development," he said.

The President also underscored his administration's efforts to streamline the process of setting up shop, eliminating opportunities for corruption, redounded to savings in the time and energy of companies.

"To obtain business permits and licenses, for example, you now need only one form, for a processing time of three days maximum-a vast improvement from the previous more than ten-step application process and three month processing time," he said.