Gov­ern­ment con­fi­dent of re­duc­ing cor­rup­tion in in­fras­truc­ture projects

Business World - - THE ECONOMY - — Eli­jah Joseph C. Tubayan

THE DEPART­MENT of Fi­nance (DoF) said the gov­ern­ment is con­fi­dent that its big-ticket in­fras­truc­ture projects will be com­pleted as sched­uled with min­i­mal cor­rup­tion.

The DoF said in a state­ment that Sec­re­tary Car­los G. Dominguez III, told ASEAN fi­nance min­is­ters and cen­tral bank gover­nors on April 5 in Sin­ga­pore that “we have man­aged to re­duce cor­rup­tion to the barest min­i­mum in all our gov­ern­ment ef­forts. We have started the projects.”

“The projects are go­ing quickly, and we are very, very con­fi­dent that they are go­ing to be com­pleted on time with no cor­rup­tion,” he added.

Asked about the pro­ce­dures for re­duc­ing cor­rup­tion, Mr. Dominguez said the gov­ern­ment re­quired “con­trac­tors of China-funded Projects to be of­fi­cially en­dorsed by the gov­ern­ment of China.” He added that other mea­sures fo­cused on project mon­i­tor­ing and prepa­ra­tion.

In Jan­uary, the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank and the gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished the In­fras­truc­ture Prepa­ra­tion and In­no­va­tion Fa­cil­ity (IPIF), which brings in ex­perts to sup­port im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies in prepar­ing their fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies, de­tailed en­gi­neer­ing de­sign, bid doc­u­ment prepa­ra­tion, and due dili­gence re­view, among oth­ers.

Mr. Dominguez also noted that ini­ti­at­ing projects with gov­ern­ment fund­ing and of­fi­cial de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance (ODA) ac­cel­er­ated im­ple­men­ta­tion com­pared to projects im­ple­mented purely via Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ships (PPP). The lat­ter method, he said, takes up ”too much time” in ne­go­ti­at­ing con­tracts, de­cid­ing on cost re­cov­ery is­sues and re­solv­ing le­gal dis­putes among con­test­ing pri­vate bid­ders.

He added fi­nanc­ing projects via bond is­sues also “speeds up project ex­e­cu­tion, re­duces com­ple­tion risk and de­liv­ers the eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the peo­ple as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Mr. Dominguez cited as ex­am­ples of work mak­ing good progress the P9.3-bil­lion Clark In­ter­na­tional Air­port Ex­pan­sion project and the first phase of the Metro Manila sub­way.

How­ever, the DoF said that it has not ruled out PPPs en­tirely, as it re­mains open to un­so­licited pro­pos­als, as long as pri­vate firms in­tro­duce new tech­nol­ogy to the project, and do not re­quire di­rect gov­ern­ment guar­an­tees.

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo R. Duterte in Jan­uary said that the gov­ern­ment will fo­cus on un­so­licited pro­pos­als sub­ject to Swiss chal­lenge for pri­vate pro­cure­ment to side­step the pub­lic bid­ding process, which he said was prone to cor­rup­tion.

The Swiss chal­lenge sys­tem sub­jects un­so­licited project pro­pos­als from the pri­vate sec­tor to a counter- of­fer process, with the orig­i­nal pro­po­nent hav­ing the op­tion to top the counter-bid.

The gov­ern­ment plans to spend some P8.4 tril­lion to boost eco­nomic growth to 7-8% this year un­til the end of its term from the 6.3% av­er­age growth rate in 2010-2015 and the 6.7% logged in 2017.

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