WELCOME REMARKS

ARSENIO M. BALISACAN
Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning

“Philippine-Australia PPP Policy Dialogue with Partnerships Victoria”
Melbourne, Australia
21 May 2015

Colleagues from the Philippine Government (Sec. Rogelio Singson, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ambassador Belen Anota, Director Cosette Canilao), partners from the Australian Government, guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen– good morning and welcome to the Philippine-Australia PPP Policy Dialogue with Partnerships Victoria.

Let me also welcome Hon. Adem Somyurek, Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade of the State Government of Victoria; and of course, officials and representatives from Partnerships Victoria, Australian Trade Commission, and the Asian Development Bank.

On behalf of the Philippine Government, I am pleased to open this important event today, which seeks to engage various stakeholders in discussions that enrich our knowledge, insights, and experiences on PPPs. My sincere appreciation goes to the PPP Center of the Philippines for making this Policy Dialogue possible, and our gratitude to the Australian Government, particularly to the State Government of Victoria and Australian Trade Commission, for your continued support in strengthening the Philippine PPP Program and partnering with us in realizing this activity. I hope thatp you will also learn from our PPP experience in today’s sharing.

Indeed, over the years, public private partnerships have become an increasingly important tool for accelerating infrastructure development, not only in the Philippines but also in many emerging countries. As we may very well know, PPPs are good instruments to mobilize capital resources and tap the private sector’s expertise and state-of-the-art technology in constructing public infrastructure facilities or services. Importantly, PPPs can assist governments in addressing infrastructure backlogs as well as in accelerating the delivery of critical development projects and facilities.

I am proud to say that the Philippines’ PPP program has come a long way in terms of developing bankable PPP projects and ensuring that they are successfully tendered. At present we have a pipeline of about 50 PPP projects worth over USD 23 billion. Nine (9) PPP contracts have also been successfully awarded to the private sector since 2011 totaling to around USD 3 billion (PHP 136.36 billion).

Thus, as we ramp up our public infrastructure spending target to at least five percent of the Gross Domestic Product by 2016, the government through its PPP program will continue to tap the private sector as partners in development to help overcome our resource constraints, deliver much-needed social services and public infrastructure facilities, and importantly, to help sustain the robust economic growth that we have been enjoying in recent times.

To this end, we are continuously working to streamline processes and institutionalize reforms and best practices. In particular, we have advocated measures to further enhance the legal and policy environment for private sector participation.

A major policy advocacy we are now pushing for is the enactment of the PPP Act or Amendments to the Revised Build-Operate-and-Transfer (BOT) Law envisioned to sustain the gains of our current PPP Program. In addition the government is also seeking to amend the law on Right of Way Acquisition (ROWA) that would address bottlenecks in infrastructure provision, including implementation delays in our PPP projects.

This advocacy is part of the reason why we are all here today: By listening to and learning from Australia’s experience on PPPs—particularly that of Victoria—this Policy Dialogue will provide useful insights on how they were able to sustain their PPP Program over the years, including an understanding of their PPP legal and institutional framework, appraisal methodologies, procurement policies, and implementation and monitoring of projects.

We have invited the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, the committee in charge of legislating the BOT Law Amendments as well as the amendments to the Right-of-Way Acquisition Act, and some government officials directly involved in our PPP processes for them to also gain valuable insights that would guide them in pushing forward this major policy reform.

On that note, I am inviting everyone to actively participate in today’s discussions and sharing of best PPP practices. Let us take advantage of what we will learn today to further strengthen the enabling framework for PPPs in the Philippines and work together for a progressive and sustainable PPP program in the coming years.

Thank you and a pleasant day to all!

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