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Tycoons present infrastructure wish list to current administration

Workers continue the construction of a building in Makati on August 30, 2022.

MANILA, Philippines — Some of the country’s most prominent tycoons have presented to President Marcos a wish list of measures on how to improve the infrastructure landscape in the country.

Ports and casino tycoon Enrique Razon, chairman of International Container Terminal Services Inc.(ICTSI), for instance, pushed for the development of ports outside Manila.

During a meeting last week of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) at Malacañang, Razon and ICTSI executive vice president Christian Gonzalez discussed the challenges facing the logistics sector.

In their presentation, Razon and Gonzalez said the logistics industry is too geographically concentrated, with the ports outside Manila underutilized.

The current port setup often leads to double or even triple handling of cargo, resulting in higher handling costs and time delays.

The PSAC recommended that key assets of the Philippine Ports Authority be identified and developed into regional hubs capable of handling international cargo.

Razon also suggested developing the Port of Iloilo into another international port.

This would ultimately lead to reduced costs and time to market for imports, as well as provide the local agricultural industry with direct global access, Razon said during the meeting.

Razon is familiar with the business potential of Iloilo as he has investments in the province, particularly through his power company, MORE Electric and Power Corp.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. president Manuel Pangilinan, meanwhile, cited the various challenges plaguing clean water accessibility, from the over-dependence on depleting groundwater to the highly fragmented governance structure.

The PSAC Infrastructure Sector additionally recommended increasing funding support for water projects and sewage treatment, while also incentivizing the private sector to invest.

The PSAC also recommended the adoption of a water tariff based on affordability instead of a straight-line cost per cubic meter.

For the energy sector, the PSAC recommended rationalizing secondary price caps in order to open up new investments, factoring in prevailing market conditions, as well as connecting the Small Power Utility Groups (SPUGs) to the grid.

For the transport and mobility sector presentation, Aboitiz Group president and CEO Sabin Aboitiz highlighted that in the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking of global competitiveness in air transport efficiency, the Philippines ranks low at 96 out of 141 countries.

TycoonsWith flight propensity increasing to pre-pandemic levels, it is imperative to improve transport and mobility infrastructure to support economic recovery and growth, the PSAC said.

In attendance at the meeting from the government for the transport and mobility sector were Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general Capt. Manuel Antonio Tamayo, and Manila International Airport Authority general manager Cesar Chiong.

The PSAC Infrastructure Sector recommended quick wins with the rehabilitation of NAIA through public-private partnership (PPP) and the expedition of the award process of projects with original proponent status this 2023.

During the meeting, the DOTr said there are ongoing NAIA privatization terms of reference being developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that will soon be published. In the medium- and long-term, PSAC proposed the development of an aerodrome strategy and airport master plan by DOTr and CAAP.

Present during last week’s meeting were Aboitiz and other PSAC Infrastructure Sector members, namely Globe Capital Partners chairperson Joanne de Asis, MPIC’s Manuel V. Pangilinan, Atok-Big Wedge Co. president Eric Recto, San Miguel Corp. president and CEO Ramon Ang and ICTSI’s Razon.

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The article was originally published in PhilStar Global and written by Iris Gonzales.

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