Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General

(Delivered by NEDA Assistant Director-General Kenneth V. Tanate)

Philippine Infrastructure Development Seminar
23 February 2015, 9:00 AM
New World Makati Hotel

To Deputy Director-General Kurosawa, Mr. Niwa, and the honorable representatives of the Ministries of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan, prospective partners for development from the private sector of Japan, colleagues from government, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Once again, welcome to the Philippine Infrastructure Development Seminar. We are gathered here today because of a shared vision for the Philippines as a country with well-developed infrastructure – where people, goods and services flow efficiently and where investors are not only welcome but are drawn to our environment in confidence.

In realizing this vision, we have carefully laid out in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 our strategies and major programs that will address infrastructure backlogs in the Philippines. As we all know, infrastructure development is critical in the growth and competitiveness of the country and its major sectors; in reducing poverty and creating quality employment; in facilitating connectivity and mobility; and in strengthening resilience among people and communities in times of natural disasters and calamities.

Given all these, the government is working to step up investments in infrastructure to be at par with our neighboring countries and to keep up with rising demands of our fast-growing economy. In the past three years, we have made considerable progress in terms of initiating and implementing strategic plans, policies, and reforms to encourage investment in infrastructure.

To begin with, the revised guidelines and procedures for entering into Joint Venture agreements between the government and private entities has been approved in view of promoting competition and encouraging private investments in infrastructure. The Department of Energy has also issued circulars to revitalize programs on energy efficiency and conservation including demand-side management and to promulgate implementing rules and manuals for the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market. Likewise, the NEDA Board Committee on Infrastructure (INFRACOM) approved in October 2014 the proposed amendments to the National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP) to increase the number of local government units (LGUs) and Water Districts (WDs) that would avail of the program. Meanwhile, the National Telecommunications Commission issued a circular adopting the Japanese standard to facilitate the country’s switch from analogue to digital broadcast system to enable the modernization and growth of the broadcast industry.

The government is also producing physical framework plans covering major areas in the country. One important milestone is the development of the Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Its Surrounding Areas with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency or JICA. The roadmap includes short, medium, and long-term strategies and investment programs for the development of the transport infrastructure sector. This serves as a guide in the development of policies, prioritization, and design of transport programs and projects. The Roadmap was approved by the INFRACOM and the NEDA Board in 2014. We will complete the framework plans for Visayas and Mindanao in the next two years.

Furthermore, the NEDA Board, under the Aquino Administration, has approved a total of 97 projects amounting to PhP1.39 trillion (USD31.42 billion), 81 of which are critical infrastructure programs and projects, with a total cost of PhP1.24 trillion (USD28.05 billion), to support the growth requirements of the country’s economic sectors. Of the total number of approved projects, 24 are funded through PPPs, 54 projects are financed through Official Development Assistance, and 19 projects are for local financing.

However, while there is progress, there remain gaps that need to be addressed within the remaining years of this administration. To address the shortfalls and upgrade our infrastructure, the government will continue to invest more and build resilient infrastructure that will transform our nation into a desirable market for tourism, trade and investments in the global arena. Our target is to increase infrastructure spending from 3.4 percent of the GDP in 2014 to at least 5.0 percent of the GDP in 2016. Government spending will be supplemented by private sector investments through PPPs so that public resources can be freed up and be utilized for the provision of much needed social services. Finally, in line with mobilizing the private sector, the government will continuously improve governance in the sector and institute policy reforms to improve the business climate in the country.

We are thankful that the country enjoys the strong support of the government of Japan, which has taken the initiative to further extend its expertise in the sectors by providing assistance and conducting forums such as this. Today, we have the shared privilege to be with a select number of Japanese companies to introduce and present their capabilities in providing services in energy, water treatment, railways, and airports. We will also learn from the Public-Private Partnership Center, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, and the Department of Public Works and Highways who will present some of the country’s priority projects in these sectors. Also, the Manila Water Company, Inc. is here to discuss water and sewerage in the Philippines.

I invite everyone to actively engage in the presentations and discussions. Let us use this unique opportunity to share our knowledge, and to see how we can aid one another in moving forward to realize our shared vision and goals.

Lastly, let me take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry for organizing this seminar and all of you gathered here for taking the time to be with us in this event.

Thank you and good morning.