Primary Responsibility

MANILA, Philippines - Undoubtedly, we need the private sector and private capital to undertake major infrastructure projects that require huge investments.

Infrastructure is, indeed, vital to our country's development. But the current state of our infrastructure has been blamed for our failure to attract a large chunk of investments that would have spawned the growth of industries and provided jobs to millions of our countrymen.

In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked the Philippines No. 113 among 139 countries in terms of quality of overall infrastructure. Among our Southeast Asian neighbors, we outranked only Vietnam (No. 123).

Actually, our score (3.2) in the WEF rankings was not too far from Vietnam's 3.0. We had the same score as Nicaragua, Libya, and Zimbabwe. On the other hand, Singapore was No. 3 (among the world's most competitive in terms of quality of infrastructure). Malaysia was ranked 27th, Brunei 36th, Thailand 46th, Cambodia 83rd, and Indonesia 90th.

The Philippines, like other emerging economies, turned to the private sector for help in the speedy development of infrastructure. It used to be a build-operate-transfer (BOT) arrangement, whereby a private company builds a highway, for example, with government contributing right-of-way expenses.

When the project is completed, the contractor collects toll from motor vehicles passing through, supposedly for a specific period, after which the road becomes a public highway.

Of course, we all know that toll highways have a way of avoiding the transformation to a toll-free highway for everybody to enjoy, but that's beside our point in this issue.

Today, we have another term for BOT and its variations. We call it Public-Private Partnership program or PPP.

The government has been so successful in promoting PPP that it is beginning to consider the PPP as the only solution to our infrastructure problems, which were blamed on the government's lack of financial resources.

I disagree. The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) recently reported that it collected P924.1 billion in taxes last year, reflecting a 12.34 percent growth from 2010 collections of P822.26 billion. The amount, while short of the BIR's target of P940 billion, is nevertheless commendable given the slowdown in the economy last year.

The Department of Finance reported also that the fiscal deficit in January-October, 2011, stood at R74.25 billion, less than a third of the P270.30 billion deficit incurred during the same period in 2010. The DOF estimates that the final deficit figure for 2011, which was capped at P300 billion, will only be in the vicinity of P192 billion, just 64 percent of the target.

So it's not true the government lacks the financial muscle to undertake big - ticket projects.

The administration has been implementing reforms to weed out corruption, which has been blamed for the loss of billions earmarked for infrastructure projects. As a result, the administration claims it has been saving billions, which may now be channeled to capital expenditure projects.

In other words, the government is now efficient and responsible in spending taxpayers' money. Efficiency, if we are to believe reports from government agencies, is also evident in implementing projects.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said early last month that 59 percent of its programmed infrastructure projects for 2012 had already been bid out. DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said the department had given notices to proceed to qualified contractors for 1,208 projects that recently underwent competitive public bidding.

Of the total 2,128 projects costing P63.12 billion under the 2012 Infrastructure program, 1,862 projects are below P50 million and 97 percent of this category had been advertised, Singson said. Even if the year 2012 has just started, he noted, the agency has already saved P2 billion from the department's 2012 allocation, which could be used to finance additional projects.

What's my point? The government claims it has improved efficiency, instituted transparency and fairness as well as safeguards against corruption in spending taxpayers' money.

Then it's time we junk the argument that the government cannot undertake major infrastructure projects, which is based on the past belief that the government was corrupt, inefficient, and lacked transparency.

We need the private sector, through the PPP, to help undertake big-ticket projects. But, in the end, the government is still mainly responsible for building roads and highways and other vital infrastructure.

The beauty in this is that the people who are paying taxes to finance infrastructure projects do not have to pay more taxes in the form of tolls for the use of these projects.

(Please send comments/feedback to


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’
    ‘Get SAF 44 killers before BBL passage’

    Lawmakers are demanding the arrest of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters involved in the killing of 44 policemen in Mamasapano before the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives deliberating on the BBL, prodded the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up its investigation and file charges against the MILF guerrillas as the Aquino administration …

  • Pinoys dance for Earth Hour
    Pinoys dance for Earth Hour

    The Philippines once again displayed its support Saturday night for the worldwide observance of Earth Hour by hosting a dance party after turning the lights off from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to save energy and make a statement on various environmental issues. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said widespread participation proved anew that no individual action on climate change is too small and that no collective vision is too big with celebrations in over 7,000 hubs in 170 countries. The WWF said …

  • Phl offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China
    Phl offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China

    The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations. The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handed to a representative of the Malaysian embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato  Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission …

  • Maysak to enter Phl Wednesday
    Maysak to enter Phl Wednesday

    A typhoon with international name Maysak is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday and bring rains over Northern Luzon by weekend, the state weather bureau said yesterday. Aldczar Aurelio, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the typhoon was 2,810 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 10 a.m. yesterday. “This typhoon is still too far to affect any part of the country,” the weather …

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

  • JGFP Summer Tour on today

    The summer tour for local junior golfers kicks off with the holding of the ICTSI-JGFP Baguio Junior Open today and tomorrow at the treacherous Baguio Country Club course in Baguio.Sixty players aged 6 to 17 years old are entered in the 36-hole tourney serving as the opening leg of the summer circuit organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines with the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Foundation as main sponsor. ... …

  • PH now market ready to absorb infra bonds

    The Philippine market is now ready to absorb infrastructure bonds that will be issued by private companies amid a growing pipeline of infra-related projects under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. President Benigno Aquino III last week said the government is still committed to spend more on the country’s infrastructure, with 16 PPP projects currently on the pipeline and nine that have already been awarded. Over the years, some of the country’s biggest infrastructure …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options