By Chino S. Leyco, September 1, 2023; Manila Bulletin

The Department of Finance (DOF) has stated that simplifying regulations and procedures for infrastructure projects will lead to quicker approvals for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that prompt evaluation of projects is crucial in creating a favorable environment for PPP-related investments.

The Marcos administration is utilizing PPP as a financing solution for its infrastructure development plan, allowing the mobilization of private capital without straining public funds.

“This requires a stable and predictable PPP policy environment that paves the way for better quality infrastructure and services while allowing private players to get a reasonable rate of return on their investment,” Diokno said.

To speed up the process, the finance chief said the government has implemented initial reforms to its PPP rules, such as the revision of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law.

The National Economic and Development Authority has also updated its Joint Venture Guidelines to align with the new BOT IRR.

Additionally, the government has revised the Investment Coordination Committee’s guidelines for approving PPP proposals, aiming to reduce bureaucracy and streamline the approval process.

However, these reforms are deemed insufficient, as Diokno emphasized the necessity of passing the pending PPP Act in the Senate.

According to Diokno, the upper chamber of Congress is expected to approve it “very soon.”

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has certified the Senate bill proposing the PPP Act as urgent.

The bill establishes guidelines for PPP projects that can be funded through government appropriations or official development assistance from foreign governments or institutions.

In 2022, the House version of the PPP Act passed its final reading.

However, Diokno pointed out that recent PPP reforms have already resulted in quicker project approvals within the past seven months.

For instance, the proposal to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was evaluated and approved in around six weeks, while the TPLEX Extension Project, covering Tarlac, Pangasinan, and La Union, underwent evaluation and approval within 11 weeks.

“Since the beginning of the President’s term, we have already approved four PPP proposals with a total project cost of P212.8 billion or around $3.8 billion,” Diokno said.

“The speed of evaluating PPP projects of this scale is a testament to this administration’s dedication to working hand in hand with the private sector to spur economic growth,” he concluded.