Home » Breaking News, Ports/Terminals » More private investments in PH port, maritime sector urged

The Philippine government expects to generate more private sector investments for the port and maritime sector to underpin robust trade.

Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) Undersecretary Aristotle Batuhain said his department is ready to undertake a coherent, integrated and efficient transport system anchored on the concept of public-private partnership (PPP).

Batuhan said the PPP scheme aims to support the government’s transport infrastructure development and modernization agenda particularly in rail, seaport and airport projects.

In line with this, he said the government is scheduled to undertake eight PPP projects starting early 2011 to improve mass transport in Metro Manila and the provinces.

The DoTC earlier identified these projects as the LRT Line 1 and MRT 3 integration, the LRT South Extension Project, the MRT Line 2 Extension Project, the Northrail Project Section 1 and 2, the Philippine National Railways North Rail-South Rail Linkage Phase 1, the Laguindingan Airport Development Project, the Panglao Airport Project and the redevelopment of the Puerto Princesa Airport Project.

Parallel to the projects, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) expects to prioritize the development of various ports and terminals through privatization.

These ports are located in Davao, Zamboanga, General Santos and Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao; Iloilo in the Visayas; and Manila Bulk Terminal in Luzon.

Batuhan said the Vessel Traffic Management System would also be established in Oriental Mindoro, Davao, Iloilo, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro to complement the physical developments with vessel safety and security solution.

“Ports and shipping activities will always remain a reliable barometer of world trade,” he stressed.

On the other hand, PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana said the agency is banking on private sector participation to push the modernization program without straining limited government resources.

“The success of the government’s privatization initiatives at the Manila International Container Terminal and South Harbor and, hopefully North Harbor and Batangas International Container Port, adds boost to our government’s drive to attract the much-needed foreign investments in transport, shipping and maritime services,” he said.

Meanwhile, to facilitate investments under the PPP, the public-private sector Export Development Council (EDC) and National Competitiveness Council (NCC) have recommended streamlining the process of project preparation and bids.  At the same time, serious consideration should be given to transfer the PPP Center to the Office of the President to be headed by a Secretary-level official to enhance its function and role in promoting and ensuring the success of the PPP scheme.

At the moment, the PPP Center is under the National Economic and Development Authority and is headed by an Executive Director. A finding by the NCC showed that in the 1990’s, the PPP Center, then called the Build Operate Transfer Center, proved to be effective under the Office of the President.

“Evaluation and processing of projects is taking time,” said Guillermo Luz, the private sector co-chairman at the NCC.  “Lead time should at least be three years and the Center should consider accepting unsolicited bids to facilitate investments,” he noted.

Photo courtesy of LRTA
http://www.lrta.gov.ph/ro_line1.htm

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