THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is enlisting the help of the country’s top private lawyers to help speed up the rollout of big-ticket infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya said the department already talked to various law firms that could be tapped to hasten the government’s procurement process.
“We plan on outsourcing work to the private sector,” said Abaya, who resigned as Cavite representative last October to fill the DOTC position. “The problem with these projects is that the process is linear. We can’t do different steps simultaneously.”
Abaya added that, with the PPP strategic fund at its disposal, the government agency has enough “flexibility” to carry out the program.
Private firms will be tapped for project feasibility studies, which is the first step in most projects, he said in an interview.
The goal is to have all feasibility studies, which measure the social and financial impacts of specific projects, completed as early as next year, he explained.
“Since the feasibility study is the first step for all projects, then why not do it all now?” Abaya said, adding that the DOTC does not have enough personnel to carry out the studies on time.
Abaya admitted that sudden changes in the government’s policy for PPPs, particularly the introduction of the “hybrid PPP” structure introduced by his predecessor current Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, resulted in delays in the rollout of long-awaited projects.
The hybrid PPP scheme involves bankrolling projects by tapping overseas development assistance (ODA) funds from friendly foreign lenders offering low interest rates. The inclusion of ODA funding meant that the government had to reconfigure many projects.
One priority project of the DOTC is the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line 1 extension, adding 12 kilometers of new track to the three-decade-old train line to reach Bacoor, Cavite.
Officials are now preparing to bid out the project.
Abaya said the DOTC would accept formal bids for the project in January, and award the P30-billion contract by April.