Senator Sonny Angara aired his full backing to the call of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for local government units (LGUs) to work with the private sector in the development of projects that will serve their respective constituencies.
As Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Angara said public-private partnerships (PPPs) are the way to go at this time when the government collections remain slow as the country is still on the road to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Continuing the development of infrastructure projects is crucial during this period of economic recovery. These projects are key to generating jobs for our people and inducing more economic activity,” Angara said.
Angara said the times call for creative but careful ways of financing public projects that do public good.
One example that Angara said should be emulated is the lease agreement between SM Prime Holdings Inc. and the city government of Iloilo City, led by its Mayor Jerry Treñas, for the redevelopment of city’s Central and Terminal Markets.
The city government of Iloilo recently entered into a 25-year lease agreement with SM Prime Holdings Inc. for the redevelopment of the two markets, which will benefit an estimated 2,800 market vendors.
SM Prime Holdings Inc. has committed to allocate as much as P3 billion for the project and as a result of this PPP, the city government will not have to shoulder any cost.
Management of the markets will remain with the city government through the Local Economic Enterprise Office.
“A PPP that strikes a balance between public welfare and fiscal responsibility, and of bringing convenience to its users without bloating public debt that they might end up paying for in the end. Such type of financing will allow LGUs to leverage their resources and punch above their weight,” Angara said.
“Done right, PPPs will end up being a win-win for both the LGU beneficiaries and the private sector partner,” he added.
In a meeting with officials of the League of Cities of the Philippines last week, the President encouraged the LGUs “to be open to the possibilities of PPPs.”
Apart from infrastructure, the President said digitalization projects should also be pursued as PPPs.
“The traditional sources - through the national budget, local revenues - must be expanded. And PPP has been proven to be a viable option,” Angara said.
“PPPs will ensure that vital projects in the pipeline will be implemented in spite of challenges in public financing,” he added.