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Senator Gatchalian Proposes ‘Super PPP Center’ to Boost Infrastructure Development

Photo by George Calvelo

Senator-elect Win Gatchalian renewed his call to transform the Public-Private Partnership Center of the government into a “Super PPP Center”, which would play a critical role in the Duterte administration’s bid to revamp the outdated infrastructure backbone by allocating as much as 6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to infrastructure spending per year.

“I envision the Super PPP Center as an institution which will utilize high-level financial and technical capabilities to act as the investment banker of the government in public-private partnerships to ensure efficiency, transparency, and maximum benefit to the public in all PPP transactions,” said Gatchalian, who spent several years as a top-level corporate executive before entering public service in 2001.

Gatchalian explained that while the various line agencies are usually equipped with the technical knowledge necessary to conceptualize, design, and implement PPP projects, these agencies do not have the proper expertise in the business side of these transactions, including bidding, procurement, and project finance.

As a result, many PPP projects never get off the ground, with only 12 being implemented during the six years of the Aquino administration. Gatchalian noted that forty-percent (40%) of the 53 pending PPP projects were stuck in either the procurement or the bidding stage.

“Under its current structure and functions, the PPP Center plays a mere consultative role in PPP projects. We need to expand the Center’s role if we want to fix the bottlenecks in the financial aspects of PPP implementation. The Super PPP Center will be essential to fulfilling the promise of the incoming administration to finally fix the Philippine infrastructure problem as quickly as possible,” said Gatchalian, who plans to join the Senate majority when the 17th Congress opens on July 25.

Gatchalian‘s comment came in the days following incoming Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s statement that infrastructure would be one of the priority sectors targeted by the 2017 budget, with as much as P1 trillion being allocated to the sector. Significantly, the Duterte administration has identified PPPs as a key means of meeting its infrastructure targets. (Aureli Sinsuat)