Implement 'Build, Build, Build' with political will like Boracay

'We need to keep this pace to build up momentum. The government needs to be ready and we need to address the challenges of each infrastructure project,' says Ramoncito Fernandez, Management Association of the Philippines president

Aika Rey

4:40:56am September 12, 2018

4:52:10pm September 12, 2018

CONTINUITY. Ramoncito Fernandez, MAP President and Maynilad Water CEO, highlights at the Arangkada forum the need for continuity of projects in government when dealing with the private sector. Photo by Aika Rey/Rappler

CONTINUITY. Ramoncito Fernandez, MAP President and Maynilad Water CEO, highlights at the Arangkada forum the need for continuity of projects in government when dealing with the private sector. Photo by Aika Rey/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A group of business executives called on the government Wednesday, September 12 to implement the centerpiece infrastructure program Build, Build, Build "with more political will" similar to the decisiveness displayed in closing the tourist hotspot Boracay.

Ramoncito Fernandez, Management Association of the Philippines president, noted that infrastructure spending has substantially increased compared to the previous year.

"We need to keep this pace to build up momentum. The government needs to be ready and we need to address the challenges of each infrastructure project," Fernandez said at the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines' Arangkada forum.

"[It should be treated with] the same intensity with the current problem in Boracay – with real honest to goodness demolition of illegal structures," he added. Fernandez is also the President and CEO of Maynilad Water Services Inc.

Highlighting a common reason for delay in capital outlay projects, the right-of-way acquisitions, he said it should be given more funding by the government and should be handled by more qualified people. (READ: Right-of-way issues may delay MRT7 completion)

"Otherwise, the seemingly minor component will continue to impede implementation and timelines," he said.

Philippine government spending has peaked in July, with disbursements amounting to P328.1 billion or a 34% increase from the same period in 2017. Bulk of July's spending went to infrastructure at P84.5 billion or 75% higher than last year's P48.4 billion.

Economic managers earlier said that 43 of 75 flagship infrastructure priority projects are under implementation, but only 6 of which are actually being constructed. Regardless, "it was a good batting average," Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia said. (READ: Hits and misses of Duterte’s infrastructure push)

Sustainability

Fernandez also said that upholding government master plans should be beyond political leaders and administrations.

"This does not help investors' confidence. Often, changes in policies also mean deviation from contractual obligations. We need to emphasize that businesses simply want predictability," he said.

Fernandez also said that political interference – particularly by local governments – should be reduced as "it will only be counterproductive." 

"We need to reduce the political interference in infrastructure projects, given [its] magnitude. Supervision and approvals should be lodged with the executive regulatory agencies," he said.

The business executive suggested that the government should give assurances that the "sanctity of contracts are being upheld."

"Over the next 10 years, $180 billion will be infused into the economy in the form of infrastructure investments as part of the Build, Build, Build program. This is expected to create jobs, reduce poverty, and attract investors to boost the economy and promote inclusive development," Fernandez said.

The budget department said P8 trillion to P9 trillion will be spent on the "Build, Build, Build" program, raising infrastructure spending from 5.4% of the gross domestic product in 2017 to as high as 7.3% of the GDP in 2022.

The government targets the Philippine economy to grow by 7% in 2018, riding on the continuous rollout of its infrastructure program. 

In April 2017, economic managers estimated that the infrastructure program would generate more than 100,000 jobs in 2017, over 800,000 jobs in 2018, 1.12 million jobs in 2019, 1.23 million jobs in 2020, 1.39 million jobs in 2021, and 1.7 million jobs million in 2022. – Rappler.com