ABOITIZ InfraCapital, Inc. on Wednesday said it is ready to resume discussions with the government on various airport projects and the National Identification Card (ID) system once the community quarantine is lifted.
In a statement, the infrastructure arm of listed holding firm Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) welcomed the administration’s “renewed commitment” to pursue key projects under President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s infrastructure program.
Aboitiz InfraCapital President and Chief Executive Officer Cosette V. Canilao said: “We understand that the government earmarked funding from other programs, including infrastructure projects, to address the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) impact. The private sector through PPP (public–private partnership), could take up the void that the reallocation from infrastructure projects has created.”
The company said it was “ready to resume discussions with the government for its airport bids (Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Laguindingan Airport, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport [NAIA] as part of the NAIA Consortium)” after the lockdown.
Aboitiz InfraCapital added that it was also “open to discussing with the government its unsolicited proposal along with the Ayala Group and Unisys, for a National Identification Card (ID) system previously submitted to the PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority) in 2018.”
The company said the urgent need for a National ID system “became even more apparent under the present conditions” where the government needs to expedite the distribution of financial aid.
As for the airport projects, Ms. Canilao said: “We believe that these are vital in reviving the economy. As with all of the Aboitiz Group’s projects and businesses, we are assessing COVID-19’s impact on our proposals.”
She said the government and the private sector should work “more closely together in putting in place programs that would revive the travel and tourism industry, as it is one of the hardest-hit sectors in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.”
On the company’s common tower project, it said there were ongoing discussions on the first batch of the towers with Globe Telecom, Inc., Smart Communications, Inc., and Dito Telecommunity Corp.
It said on-the-ground activities will resume once the lockdown is lifted.
Sabin M. Aboitiz, AEV president and chief executive, was also quoted as saying: “One sure way to keep the economy stimulated is the immediate implementation of the government’s infrastructure program, especially the projects of national significance.”
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has said that the government would assign higher priority to health and digital infrastructure projects in its flagship “Build, Build, Build” program.
“If (the financing structure offers) value for money and will benefit the people of this and future generations, why not,” NEDA Acting Director-General Karl Kendrick T. Chua recently told BusinessWorld by mobile phone when asked if the economic team will consider increasing the share of PPPs to free up funds for the government.
The government softened its stance on PPP-funded projects when it expanded its P4.2-trillion infrastructure program to 100 projects, 26 of which are to be funded through PPPs. The previous list of 75 included eight PPPs.
Mr. Chua said despite the shifting priorities, the government will forge ahead with the infrastructure program due to its key role in the economic recovery.
The administration hopes to start all 100 projects and complete “a significant number” before President Rodrigo R. Duterte steps down in 2022. — Arjay L. Balinbin