Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement

Poe pushes PPP scheme to help economy rebound from pandemic

Senator Grace Poe on Friday asked the government to take a second look at public-private partnership arrangement to help the economy rebound from the global health crisis.

Poe cited the potential of several sectors that could benefit from PPP such as transportation, health and telecommunications.

“There lies the opportunity to remind policymakers of the financial advantages of PPP over government-funded projects—the shifting of project costs from the taxpayer to the user of the project’s services. By contracting out the undertaking of large projects that are commercially viable, the government can free up funds to spend on health care and poverty alleviation projects,” Poe said during an online forum organized by Stratbase ADR Institute.

Poe said the transportation sector could save thousands of jobs by creating relevant infrastructure projects to decongest EDSA and provide opportunities for PPPs in the time of economic crisis.

The “Move as One Coalition” proposed to engage 3,000 bus operators and 15,000 other PUVs through service contracts equal to P30 billion, she said.

It also proposed P10 billion in projects to improve the walking and cycling infrastructure to create an environment that is less dependent on automotive transportation.  The advocacy group also proposed P70 billion in infrastructure projects like bus stops, bus only lanes, depots and terminals. 

“This amounts to P110 billion in costs, but the coalition projects P373 billion in returns over three years which includes P34 billion in transport jobs retained and P78 billion pesos in avoided job losses for commuters,” she said.

Poe encouraged the private sector to “take on the responsibility of behaving in a socially responsible manner” to convince the government about the merits of PPP.

“Our government has so far been reluctant to back PPP due to the perception that the private sector has abused the system by corrupting regulators and negotiating for itself terms that are overly favorable to its shareholders and onerous to the consuming public,” Poe said.

“Play fair, play by the rules, and keep the public interest in mind. I understand that your shareholders need to make a return on their investment, but if the consuming public loses out in the end, it will only reinforce the government’s suspicions towards PPP and take us back to the default alternative—government-undertaken projects and all the inefficiencies and frustrations that come with the territory,” she said.

Poe also pushed for the opening of the economy to more foreign direct investments that can provide capital infusion needed by several industries including manufacturing, transportation, logistics and telecoms.

“There are those who fear that foreign ownership of vital industries could pose threats to national security. However, increasing FDIs and promoting national security are not conflicting goals. The country can have both as long as proper safeguards are observed,” Poe said.

Topics: Senator Grace Poe , public-private partnership , PPP , Philippine economy
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