Thursday, 5 March 2015

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Public private partnership program developing 61 projects worth $26 billion, official says

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The Philippine government achieved a milestone last year in the implementation of its public private partnership (PPP) program, with 61 PPP projects in the pipeline worth $26 billion, PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao said.

"Twenty-fourteen was a year that showcased the strides and milestones that come with the successful implementation of the PPP program as a cornerstone of the country's infrastructure agenda," Canilao said in her welcome remarks at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) PPP Experts Advisory Council Meeting held at the Taal Vista Hotel here Wednesday.

"One concrete and undeniable proof of the thriving program is the robust pipeline of projects that we have maintained in close coordination with various implementing agencies," she added.

Through the effective collaboration of the PPP Center and its partner agencies, it successfully awarded nine projects totaling about $2.9 billion, she said.

These projects are the Daang Hari-SLEX Link Road, the School Infrastructure Project Phases 1 and 2, the NAIA Expressway Phase 2 project, the modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center, the Automatic Fare Collection System, the Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal Building, the LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension and Operation and Maintenance, and the Integrated Transport System-Southwest Terminal Project.

Canilao said this is more than the six solicited PPP projects awarded in the past three administrations.

"These numbers represent not only the value of implementing PPP projects for the benefit of the public but they are also an indication of increasing investor confidence in the transparent process," she said.

Foreign and local investors participating in the bidding process have increased over the years, she said, noting the importance of having transparent and well-documented transactions in all PPP projects.

Toward this end, the PPP Center is developing a PPP Knowledge Management Portal, which includes a virtual data room (VDR) system -- a highly secure online facility for storing, accessing and distributing tender documents.

The center wants to institutionalize the use of VDR for future PPP projects to improve processes and ensure transparency in the bidding process, Canilao said. PND (as)

Aquino government eyes legacy of institutionalized public private partnership program

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The Aquino administration wants to leave a legacy of an enduring public private partnership (PPP) program through the creation of a solid legal policy framework, PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao has said.

This policy framework will ensure transparency, predictability, tested procedures and standard contract agreements that uphold reasonable returns and fair risk allocation, Canilao said in her welcome remarks during the opening the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) PPP Experts Advisory Council Meeting held at the Taal Vista Hotel here Wednesday.

The PPP Center is also active in building the capacity of its stakeholders, Canilao said, noting that last year, more than 90 local government units (LGUs), 63 government-owned and controlled corporations, 81 national government agencies, and eight academic institutions were capacitated by the center.

This initiative will ensure that these stakeholders have the skills and knowledge to develop well-structured PPP projects, she said.

The PPP center has also partnered with international institutions to further improve the capacity of the center, the LGUs and other partners, she added.

"We have signed a twinning agreement with Infrastructure New South Wales last year, which aims to enhance the center's competencies in the areas of contract management, knowledge management, public communications, and probity advisory," Canilao said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has also partnered with the PPP Center for the training of its partners for the development of PPP projects, she added.

Canilao noted that several countries, among them Indonesia, Nigeria, Bhutan, and Tonga, have sought the Philippines' assistance in developing their respective PPP programs.

These requests show the country's success in implementing its PPP program, she said.

The meeting of PPP experts and other APEC stakeholders in Tagaytay City aims to discuss PPP programs and their successful implementation. PND (as)

Advocates want small and medium enterprises to get easier credit access

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) Advocates in member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) want more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region to gain easier access to credit.

During the second and concluding day of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion on Wednesday, the delegates agreed that while there have been inroads in SME financing, countries in the region could further expand credit coverage.

"Financial inclusion is vital in achieving the goal of enhancing inclusivity of growth of economies. If we help SMEs become more productive, such as by easing accessibility of financing, we help our economies generate more jobs and boost incomes," Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said.

The Philippines, which is acknowledged to have one of the best regulatory environments for microfinance in the world, has vowed to continue moving the agenda of financial inclusion forward.

During the meeting, delegates tackled the need to make credit data accessible to lenders to give SMEs a better chance of getting financing. At the same time, they discussed means to ensure security of information and credit transactions to build public confidence on credit information systems.

In the Philippines, a centralized credit information system will soon be in operation. The Credit Information Corp. earlier reported that the sharing of information through the system will begin by the end of the year, while most of the relevant credit data will be made available through the system by 2016.

The delegates also discussed having a formal definition of financial inclusion, covering specific parameters that will determine the level of inclusivity of the financial sector. This definition is proposed to serve as a guide for all APEC member economies.

Outstanding microfinance loans in the Philippines had consistently grown over the years, hitting P9.4 billion as of the end of September 2014 from P2.6 billion in 2002.

Over the same period, microfinance borrowers in the Philippines had grown from about 390,000 to nearly 1.16 million, while the number of banks with microfinance units had increased from 119 to 183.

The two-day 2015 Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion is just one of the year-round APEC meetings to be held this year. The meetings will cover a wide array of topics anchored on the development goal for the Asia-Pacific region. PND (as)

Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership Dialogue aims to reconcile public-private sector differences

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The 2015 Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership (APIP) Dialogue, which opened at the Taal Vista Hotel here Wednesday, aims to reduce the differences between the public and private sectors in infrastructure development.

In his welcome remarks, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said this year's dialogue on infrastructure partnership will focus on an important topic -- urban infrastructure development and financing, a key agenda in the Cebu Action Plan that will guide member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the coming years. The action plan will be launched in September.

Citing a World Bank report, Beltran said there is an influx of people from rural areas to urban centers, seeking better job opportunities and a good life, thus increasing the need for more infrastructures.

The World Bank report, he said, raised issues to policymakers on how to finance and develop budding cities, as well as on how to improve and develop cities with a pattern considered as locked in.

"I envision this afternoon's dialogue to be a free-flowing exchange of ideas. I hope none of us will hesitate in sharing their ideas and recommendations as we all work towards the goal of improving Philippine infrastructure and eventually regional infrastructure," he said.

Chairman of the APIP dialogue, Mark Johnson, said in his remarks that the purpose of the dialogue is to reduce the asymmetry in knowledge applied in the public sector and the private sector with regards to infrastructure development.

The private sector often has knowledge and information but because of competition, these are not easily made available, Johnson said.

The public sector, on the other hand, is constrained by policy, political issues and so on, and there must be a frank discussion between the public and private sectors to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole process, he said.

Johnson meanwhile recognized the very impressive Philippine progress in terms of the implementation of its public private partnership (PPP) program in the past several years, noting this feat could be emulated by other countries. PND (as)

President Aquino witnesses turnover of Special Action Force command to new leader

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday witnessed the turnover of the leadership of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) to Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo from Officer-in-Charge Noli Taliño.

The ceremony was held at 1:40 p.m. at the SAF Headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan in Taguig City.

During the ceremony, Taliño thanked President Aquino for the opportunity to lead the SAF, even for a short period.

Taliño temporarily replaced SAF Director Getulio Napeñas, who was relieved after a police operation to arrest two terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao resulted in the death of 44 police commandos last January 25.

Lazo was the head of the PNP Firearms and Explosive Office. He graduated from Philippine Military Academy in 1984 under Class “Maharlika”.

In his remarks, Lazo said he was glad to return to the SAF command, which he once served.

Prior to the turnover ceremony, President Aquino had a nearly three-hour dialogue with the SAF officers and commandos deployed during the Mamasapano mission.

Present during the dialogue were Interior Secretary Mar Roxas; PNP Acting Chief Deputy Director Leonardo Espina; National Capital Region Police Office Director Carmelo Valmoria; and Chief of the PNP Directorial Staff Deputy Director Marcelo Garbo, Jr. PND (ag)

President Aquino meets with Special Action Force officials

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday morning had a meeting with officials of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF).

The meeting was held at the Conference Room of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

According to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., the meeting focused on a review of the operations conducted to arrest terror suspects Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and Basit Usman in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 24 to 25.
Secretary Coloma said the review was essential in identifying points for improvement in the conduct of similar operations.
He said that during the meeting, the President emphasized the importance of rebuilding the capability of the SAF as an elite unit of the PNP on account of the vital role it performs.
The President also pledged support for the acquisition of needed equipment and resources, he said.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who was present at the meeting, said SAF troopers were able to talk to the President about their work-related concerns.

Among the concerns the troopers brought up were their lack of leave from work and the lack of hazard pay for some SAF members.

Secretary Roxas added that the President gave the PNP a deadline to resolve the matter.

“Binigyan ng Pangulo ng malinaw na timeline na within 30 days ay isumite sa kanyang tanggapan, ibig sabihin nakadaan na ito sa PNP, nakadaan na sa NAPOLCOM (National Police Commission) bago dumating sa Tanggapan ng Pangulo, within 30 days, itong mga bagay na ito,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by PNP Officer-in-Charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina; Chief of the PNP Directorial Staff Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo, Jr.; NCRPO Chief Director Carmelo Valmoria; Chief Superintendent Moro Virgilio Lazo; and Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño.

According to Coloma, the President and accompanying officials proceeded to the SAF headquarters quadrangle after the meeting to witness the turnover of command from SAF Officer-in-Charge Chief Superintendent Taliño to newly appointed SAF commander Chief Superintendent Lazo. PND (ag)

Canada recognizes the Philippines' successful public private partnership program, says envoy

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) A Canadian envoy has commended the Philippines for the successful implementation of its public private partnership (PPP) program, which he said could serve as a model for other countries to adopt.

"The Philippines’ experience in the successful rollout of the Philippines’ PPP program can provide lessons for the plans of other PPP Centers, as well as provide more impetus to the work of this panel," Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder said in his welcome remarks during the 4th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) PPP Experts Advisory Council Meeting held at the Taal Vista Hotel here Wednesday.

"I am also pleased that a consortium led by a Canadian company, CPCS Transcom Limited, Canada, is providing consulting services to the Philippines’ PPP Center as they advance projects under their aggressive PPP agenda," Ambassador Reeder added.

The Canadian government has provided CAD$4.2 million to support institutional strengthening and capacity building in the Philippines’ PPP Center, he said, noting that this is in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Australia.

The envoy also expressed Canada’s commitment to help Indonesia operationalize its own PPP Center and work with the World Bank and the Indonesian Ministry of Finance in preparing for the center’s launch.

He further said that Canada is extending CAD$4.5 million to the Asia Infrastructure Center of Excellence (AICOE), which is based in Singapore.

The center supports and promotes connectivity in the region through infrastructure development. It provides technical assistance to help Southeast Asian countries identify and prepare viable, bankable and high-impact regional PPP infrastructure projects.

Canada, like other countries in the Asia Pacific, is also working to address infrastructure gaps, which are key constraints to economic growth and poverty reduction, according to Reeder.

"We recognize the important role of infrastructure investments in building a resilient and competitive economy and providing requisite public services to citizens efficiently and effectively," he said.

The North American country has a 22-year history of successful PPP projects, Reeder said, adding that it has completed 221 projects, valued at more than CAD$70.4 billion.

As a result, he said, Canada's industry has developed exportable world-class expertise in PPPs, with respect to Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) projects. PND (as)

Philippine government to roll out five more public private partnership projects soon

(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The Philippine government is about to roll out five more public private partnership (PPP) projects in addition to 11 projects that are currently up for grabs, PPP Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao said Wednesday.

"There will be a NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) Board meeting on March 24 and two PPP projects will be up for approval or discussions as well. The rest are in various project preparation and feasibility studies," Canilao told reporters during a press conference held at the Summit Ridge Hotel here.

She said that during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) PPP Experts Advisory Council Meeting held Wednesday, there was a presentation on the country's PPP program.

The PPP Center showcased to the panel the approach that it took to jumpstart the PPP program and enhance its capacity to evaluate PPP projects, she said, adding that the Center also discussed the legal and regulatory framework for the country's PPP projects.

Canilao reported that the country has 61 PPP projects in the pipeline, of which nine have already been awarded.

The nine PPP projects were awarded during the Aquino administration, exceeding the past three administration's solicited PPP projects.

In the next panel meeting in July, Canilao said they will discuss issues that the country has encountered in setting up its PPP program, and the solutions that it has undertaken to overcome those issues.

The discussion on PPP programs of APEC member economies is aimed at addressing infrastructure gaps, which are key constraints to economic growth and poverty reduction.

Member economies recognize the important role of infrastructure investments in building a resilient and competitive economy and providing efficient public services to their citizens. PND (as)