Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III assured the speedy and graft-free implementation of infrastructure projects under the P8.4-trillion ‘Build, Build, Build’ program of the Duterte administration.
The Duterte administration identified 75 flagship infrastructure projects under the five-year “Build, Build, Build” program. The National Economic and Development Authority board chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte already approved 23 projects for implementation.
“Under the leadership of President Duterte, we have managed to reduce corruption to the barest minimum in all our government efforts. We have started the projects already,” Dominguez said in an interview in Singapore on the sidelines of the recent Asean Finance Ministers’ and Central Governors’ Meeting.
“So the projects are going quickly, and we are very, very confident that they are going to be completed on time with no corruption,” he said.
Dominguez said with a combined cost of $170 billion, the implementation of these big-ticket infrastructure projects “is the heart of the economic program” of the Duterte administration.
“This investment is very much needed by our country. We have to modernize our infrastructure and, at the same time, provide a lot of good jobs and a lot of business opportunities for our people,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said in a speech at the 8th WorldBank Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit that the Duterte administration tweaked the traditional Public-Private Partnership program into a “hybrid” model so that the government could implement projects using a combination of its own budget, the massive inflows of official development assistance loans and funds raised from bond floats at investment-grade rates to speed up project execution, reduce completion risks and deliver the economic benefits to the people as soon as possible.
He cited as example the P9.3-billion expansion of the passenger terminal of the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which already broke ground, and the signing of the P51.3-billion loan agreement with Japan for the first tranche of Tokyo’s financing assistance to build the first phase of the Philippines’ first Metro Manila subway.
Finance Undersecretary Grace Karen Singson said in a Manila forum that the Duterte administration abandoned the traditional PPP mode because the government consumed too much time renegotiating contracts, deciding on cost recovery issues and resolving legal disputes among contesting private bidders.
Singson said another factor―cost―also dissuaded the government from implementing projects through the usual PPP, which often led to excessive user fees charged to the public to ensure that the private sector partners recouped their respective investments quickly and at wider profit margins.
The government usually imposes front-end charges to meet its own needs, further driving up expenses for PPP projects.