UK to help Philippines bolster foreign investment

The Asian country is looking to revamp its PPP framework in an effort to attract more overseas money to its infrastructure projects.

The British government has agreed to provide a grant to the Philippines’ PPP Centre as the latter seeks to make infrastructure investments more attractive to foreign bidders.

The programme aims to develop a legal and commercial framework that helps attract more foreign investors to the domestic PPP market despite the country’s constitutional limitations on foreign equity ownership. 

In the first phase, the centre will work on designing a framework and policy instruments that will help foster investments in the companies that operate and maintain PPP projects. In the later phase, it intends to carry out a promotion campaign to educate government agencies, financial institutions and other stakeholders on the reform’s merits. 

The PPP Centre has awarded 14 projects since its inception, with foreign strategic players winning some of these tenders in partnership with local developers. 

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport project, for instance, was won by Indian conglomerate GMR and local developer Megawide Construction in April 2014. A consortium teaming up Macquarie Group with Filipino groups Ayala Corporation and Metro Pacific was later chosen as the winning bidder for the $1.4 billion Line 1 light rail extension and operation project.

There are currently 11 projects under procurement, including the five regional airport redevelopment scheme. 

Among the shortlisted bidders in October last year for this project were Aboitiz Equity, teamed up with France’s Vinci, and Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corporation, as part of a consortium with San Miguel. Aéroports de Paris was also in the running alongside Metro Pacific while Japan Airport Terminal and Sojitz Corporation were part of a team that also included Filinvest. 

The Filipino government said earlier this month that it would resume the regional airports auction, paused during the country’s presidential campaign, before the end of this year.