By Ben O. de Vera, September 14 2018; Philippine Daily Inquirer


Image Credit to ABS-CBN News

If Americans wanted to participate in the ambitious “Build, Build, Build,” why did they not bid for the development of the soon-to-rise New Clark City?

This was the question posed by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III to US State Department Assistant Secretary Manisha Singh in a meeting last Aug. 30 during her visit to Manila, the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement Thursday.

“Last time I spoke with the US-Asean Business Council and the US Chamber here, I asked them one question: ‘Why did they not bid for the project in Clark?’ The refurbishment of the Clark air base is done with our own funds. The project is around $250 million. We bid this out around this time last year,” Dominguez told Singh.

He noted a number of US firms submitted bids for the design of the sprawling commercial and industrial zone rising in the area where a former American military base used to be located, but they did not bid for the development of the project itself.

“Maybe they don’t have an interest here,” Dominguez said, even as he noted that the New Clark City will involve the expansion of Clark International Airport on top of building a backup government center, sports facilities as well as industrial zones.

In response, Singh said that “we would like to participate, we would like to engage.”

Singh was quoted by the DOF as saying that “there might have been some disconnect that needs to be corrected to ensure that US companies are aware of the opportunities in the Philippines.”

Singh said American companies may be enjoined to tie up with their Japanese counterparts for possible investments in the freeport zone.

Dominguez said “the Philippines welcomes US companies here, as their investments would prove beneficial for the country’s fast-growing economy.”

During a luncheon hosted by the US Embassy and American business chambers on Aug. 29, Singh said the Philippine government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure development program complements US and Japanese efforts in the region.

“We want the Philippines, or the Philippine government to know, that there are alternatives,” Singh had said.

“There are many alternatives when looking to fulfill the infrastructure needs, and we certainly hope you will look to the United States as a very positive alternative,” Singh added.

The government earlier said it could allot 300-500 hectares of land within the New Clark City for a planned industrial park hosting Chinese locators.

The Philippine and Chinese governments were expected to sign the agreement to build the industrial zone in November, when China’s President Xi Jinping visits the Philippines.