Foreign business executives said they would support the government's public-private partnership projects despite renewed concerns about the global recovery, but challenged the Aquino administration to fast track the bidding and assure participants that the contracts will be honored.
"We are behind it 100 percent, but it has to happen," Michael Miloda, vice president and general manager of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, told this reporter.
"We're in the middle of June. You have 10 to 11 projects that are supposed to be rolled out this year. We don't have too much time for this year. In 2012, there will be other projects to be launched so you have to get started somewhere," Miloda said.
Nobuo Fuji, vice president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, said the projects were announced last year, but as of June, the government has yet to commence the bidding process.
"It's about confidence in the Philippines and if the rules and security for PPP are clear and transparent, there's a good chance that it will move forward," said Austen Chamberlain, president of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.
The foreign executives also challenged the government to guarantee interested bidders that the awarded contracts will be respected, dispelling the perception that the Philippines has "become a dangerous place to invest your money."
Fuji said Japanese investors were "doubtful" about bidding for the projects since some ofthe contracts remain "unclear."
"You don't know if the contract will be valid, you don't know if it will survive. If that cannot be assured then investors will be hesitant," Miloda said.
"You want to be confident that you'll get your return, that someone's not going to cancel your contract, that someone's going to increase your expenses without you knowing it," Chamberlain said.
The government is reviewing some contracts awarded during the previous administration, such as the North Luzon Railway Project and the Greater Maritime Access Ports Project, which were found to be "ambiguous" by the Department of Transportation and Communications.
The 10 PPP infrastructure projects lined up for this year include the P70-billion South extension of the Light Right Transit Line 1; P11 3-billion East extension of LRT 2; P7.7-billion privatization of LRT 1; P6.3-billion privatization of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3;
P11.8-billion Cavite-Laguna Expressway; P10.6-billion second phase of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway; P7.6-billion New Bohol Airport; P7.5-billion Puerto Princesa Airport; P3.2-billion new Legaspi (Daraga) Airport; and the P1.5-billion privatization of the Laguindingan Airport.
Source: Manila Times; Business; 18 June 2011