MANILA – Easing restrictions on foreign investments will give the country's public-private partnership (PPP) program a shot in the arm, an expert said.

Jesse Ang, PPP Transaction Advisor at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) said government needs to find a way on how to get foreigners fully involved in the country's PPP program.

"Philippines has the lowest amount of FDI [foreign direct investments] in Southeast Asia. We have massive amounts of infrastructure to be build through PPPs. We need to find a way to bring in more investors and opening this up to foreigners is certainly one way to do that. So, the issue of foreign majority, I think, is crucial, if we are to transform, and make a dent on our infrastructure deficit, we really need to find a way on how to get foreign investors fully involved," he told ANC.

Ang said government should also address the regulatory and commercial setbacks of PPP contracts.

One example is the P123 billion Laguna Lakeshore expressway project. He explained that a project that size should have a clear assurance of returns.

"I think part of the challenge is you put money out pretty much upfront then you get return 10 years later. That in itself is challenging. If I was the private sector entity, I want some sort of assurance that I need to get returns, and remember, 10 years means it's going to cross governments. Our history, unfortunately, is riddled with the fact that when you change government, some of the regulations change, I think that itself is an important factor, and in addition, the amounts are huge. If you're going to put a lot of money at risk, you really want assurance you can get returns," he said.

So far, the Aquino administration has awarded 10 PPP's, a small number for some, but Ang said is still quite remarkable compared with the rest of Southeast Asia.