Abaya on PPPs: Better cautious than sorry

Being cautious takes time, but it's a compromise to avoid future headaches, says Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya

CAVITE BOUND. The Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 extension to Cavite is one of three project that are set to be awarded in 2013. Photo courtesy of the PPP Center

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) is confident that it will be able to award at least 3 Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects this year and commence bidding for 6 others in the next few years. 

In his speech at the Makati Business Club (MBC) General Membership meeting on Thursday, April 26, DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the 3 PPP projects that will be awarded in 2013 are:

  • Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS)
  • LRT Line 1 Extension to Cavite
  • Mactan-Cebu International Airport Project

The 6 projects that will commence bidding are:

  • LRT Line 2 Extension to Masinag
  • O&M of Puerto Princesa airport
  • O&M of Bohol-Panglao airport
  • O&M of Laguindingan airport
  • Expansion of Davao-Sasa port
  • Expansion Central Spine Ro-ro project

“The PPP programs of this administration, in particular, took some time to get rolling. PPP is something that’s still new for all of us, and as with all things unfamiliar, we approached it with the necessary prudence. But we are now at the catch-up point,” Abaya said.

“Being cautious takes time, and that’s been the foremost criticism thrown at us. But this is the kind of compromise we’re willing to make if it means that we can gain more benefits in the long-term and avoid future headaches by ensuring that our infrastructure projects are vigorously planned and provided by the most competent partners who share the same impetus to serve the Filipino people well,” he explained. 

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY. Transport Secretary Jun Abaya explains the delays in the roll out of big-ticket infrastructure projects. Photo from Malacañang

More bidders

Abaya said it was important for the government to impose stricter rules to ensure transparency and a level playing field in the bidding process. This makes all PPP projects above board and prevent them from becoming ‘white elephants’.

The DOTC Chief said that in the pre-qualification bidding of the AFCS, the stricter DOTC rules disqualified a firm just because it was15 minutes late in submitting its documents. 

By imposing these rules, Abaya said the government was able to restore the private sector’s trust as evidenced by the significant increases in the number of firms wanting to bid for the PPPs. 

“This is not just a matter of principle, of doing the right thing, but also a matter of practicality. Taxpayers were essentially losing millions in previous projects because we did not generate enough competition for our projects, forcing us to settle for whichever won among two or three bids,” Abaya said. – Rappler.com