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PPP setback will not derail us, says Purisima

The Philippines finance secretary has insisted that the country’s public-private partnership programme remains on track, despite the deferral of the Aquino administration’s first planned PPP last month.

The Philippines finance secretary, Cesar Purisima, has said that the country’s intention to initiate bidding processes for 10 public-private partnerships (PPPs) this year remains on track. This is despite the programme’s first planned PPP having been shelved last month.

A first round of bidding for the contract to operate Metro Rail Transit 3 and Light Rail Transit 1 was to have taken place two days ago, but was shelved last month when Mar Roxas took over from Jose de Jesus as transport secretary and declared that the rail line project would be deferred until further notice and subject to a review. The project would have been the Aquino administration’s first PPP.

The deferral has prompted observers to conjecture that other planned PPPs will be deferred as well. However, Purisima told a forum of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines: “It will happen…We are confident that this PPP program will take off. We are committed to it, we are committed to reducing the infrastructure gap between the Philippines and our neighbors.”

Purisima said that despite delays, the 10 PPPs could still be executed by the end of the year. He said the government was taking steps to ensure that there would be long-term financing and an apprpriate regulatory system for infrastructure projects. Among the measures being taken is an amendment of the country’s build-operate-transfer law.

Purisma said the focus should be on the achievements made by the Philippines, such as last month’s ratings upgrade by Moody’s to Ba2, rather than on what has not yet been accomplished.