MANILA–The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will chair an inter-agency task force to address bottlenecks and gaps in the country’s infrastructure development.

In a keynote speech at the 3rd Asian Public Governance Forum on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and 4th Regional Policy Network on PPPs, Infrastructure and Connectivity at the Manila Peninsula Hotel on October 24, 2017, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the Project Facilitation, Monitoring and Innovation (PFMI) Task Force, composed of economic and major infrastructure agencies, functions as a body that will institute policies and processes to address issues in the project cycle of the Infrastructure Flagship Projects.

The PFMI Task Force’s Steering Committee  has the NEDA as chair, the Department of Finance as co-chair, Department of Budget and Management, Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation, and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

The Secretary also reported that NEDA is discussing with oversight and key implementing agencies the enhancement of the NEDA Board and Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Project Screening Guidelines.

“As part of a more efficient planning and programming process of the government, programs, activities, and projects for inclusion in the country’s Public Investment Program must be examined early on and screened through a more rational and methodical process,” Pernia said.

He further said that the final version of the guidelines would help the government identify the appropriate procurement modality that is favorable to both the government and the public.

The guidelines will help government address, minimize, if not totally avoid, issues in implementing projects that can be attributed to poor project planning and programming.

Moreover, Pernia underscored the need to amend the Philippine’s two-decade-old Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law and its implementing rules and regulations.

“(It is) among our priority regulations, so as to raise the efficacy of private sector participation and to keep policies attuned to the changing business environment,” he added.

Among the proposed amendments to the BOT Law are: (1) the inclusion of new variants for contractual agreements such as joint ventures; (2) adoption of new approaches on unsolicited proposals to ensure transparency and competition, without sacrificing speed; (3) exemption from payment of real property tax for Projects of National Significance; and (4) other measures to further improve the PPP procurement process.

In a recent statement the World Bank noted that infrastrucuture will boost investment growth. According to the Bank's Lead Economist for the Philippines Birgit Hansl, higher investment growth could "push the country’s growth rate towards the upper end of the government’s target of 6.5 to 7.5 percent of GDP." However, she explained that "this is contingent on the public infrastructure program gaining full traction."