Philippines approves projects worth $6.8bn

The Philippines approved 12 infrastructure projects collectively worth $6.8bn last Friday as its roadshow draws to a close. 

The Philippines National Economic Development Authority Board, led by President Benigno Aquino, approved 12 infrastructure projects last Friday, collectively worth over 300 billion pesos (€5.3 billion; $6.8 billion), of which six, collectively worth $3.67 billion, are to be undertaken as public-private partnerships (PPP).

“The transportation and port projects will improve the mobility of people and the efficiency of the flow of goods and services. Also, some of these projects will instill or enhance resiliency of many areas against climate-related risks and disasters,” according to Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

Aquino has made a number of moves to deliver on his promise to significantly boost his country’s infrastructure pipeline by the end of his term in office. The latest infrastructure projects add to the pipeline of 50 or more deals which he has been presenting to potential investors around the world since September.

The PPP Center-led North-American investments road-show, which kicked off in Toronto on October 14 and passed by New York, ended in Washington DC yesterday with a forum organised by CGLA at the Philippine Embassy in which the PPP Center’s executive director Causette Canilao presented transportation projects, including airports, transport terminals, and rail lines, and highlighted the Regional Prisons Facilities Project as well as the Batangas-Manila Natural Gas Pipeline to 40 potential investors.

The six PPP projects freshly approved for roll-out are the following:
*The development, operations and maintenance of four airports: Puerto Princesa, Davao, Bacolod, and Iloilo. The airport projects have an indicative cost of $2.15 billion and will be implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). The private sector will undertake the expansion, operations and maintenance of these airports as well as provision of additional facilities and other necessary improvements to enhance passenger safety, security, access, passenger and cargo movement efficiency, and operational efficiency, said a statement from the NEDA board. Concession periods range from 20 to 35 years.

*The fifth project approved on the same day, to be implemented by the Department of Justice (DOJ), is a regional prison facilities PPP project worth $1.12 billion. It will entail the construction and maintenance of a modern prison facility in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, a land-locked province of the Central Luzon region, and is the first penitentiary project to be undertaken as a PPP in the country. The facility will accommodate 26,880 inmates, and will see the transfer of those currently incarcerated in existing penal facilities such as the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW).

*The DOTC and Philippine Ports Authority will also implement the development of the existing Davao Sasa Port in Davao City into a modern, international-standard container terminal. The project, with an indicative cost of $389 million, will improve trade access to Mindanao and the Philippines. The private party will finance the construction and modernisation of the existing port facility.

In the past months, the country’s PPP projects have been pitched to investors in Europe during President Aquino’s official tour, in Singapore at the Infrastructure and PPP Opportunities Seminar-Roadshow, and at the Philippine Economic Briefing in Japan.

The courting of international investors comes at a time when the country has taken action to curtail China’s claims over disputed territories in the “South China”/”West Philippines” Sea by entering into arbitral proceedings against its neighbour.

Hopes are high for the territorial dispute not to hinder trade relations between the two nations however: “President Aquino and President Hu Jintao have agreed that the bilateral agenda will be moved forward while contentious issues will be abstracted for separate treatment,” noted an official communiqué on the website of the Philippine embassy in Canberra, Australia.