PH opens up to foreign contractors
To fast-track the rollout of infrastructure projects and enjoin greater private sector participation, the government will remove the restriction on foreign contractors from its investment negative list, the country’s chief economist said yesterday.
Also, the government is firming up loan agreements worth more than $9 billion from China, Japan and South Korea to finance the planned infrastructure buildup under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, officials said during the Second Annual Philippines Energy and Infrastructure Finance Forum.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the forum that the lifting of the restriction on international contractors’ participation in infrastructure projects formed part of the government’s move to further liberalize the country’s foreign investment negative list (FINL).
Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, told reporters that at present, foreign contractors could only own a maximum share of 40 percent in firms operating in the country.
The Neda chief said once the restriction was lifted, possibly by administrative means, foreign contractors could bid for flagship, big-ticket projects that were of national significance.
Neda earlier identified 75 flagship, “game-changing” infrastructure projects that the administration was planning to implement during President Duterte’s term.
At the same forum, Finance Undersecretary Karen Singson said the government was expecting $1.8 billion in financing from China and Japan to come in starting this year until next year, part of the two countries’ commitments worth a total of $9 billion in the next five years.
Singson told reporters that the Chinese and Japanese loans would be for the P2.7-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the P10.9-billion New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project and the P355.6-billion Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1.
Also, there was “a lot of progress” in the bilateral negotiations for financing from South Korea, Singson added.
The South Korean loans, which have “very attractive” terms, will be for the $97-million Panguil Bay Bridge that will connect Misamis Occidental to Lanao del Norte in Mindanao, and for the $183-million Cebu International Container Port, she said.