A SENIOR LEGISLATOR said public-private partnership (PPP) schemes for infrastructure require more attractive terms to ensure private-sector participation, and promised to reorganize the government’s offerings to help it pursue its public-works agenda in fiscally unfavorable conditions.

After a meeting with the incoming Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan, Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said on Thursday that “PPPs stand a very strong chance of playing a major role again in this new administration.”

“We have ongoing fiscal constraints, but we also have ongoing public needs. Infrastructure and social services will always be good, and necessary investments. So, sourcing from outside the public sector will be very crucial,” he said.

Mr. Salceda said he is also in continuing discussions with SMC Tollways executives on how to develop the infrastructure and transport sector.

“I discussed with Secretary Bonoan today how I hope to help his department with sourcing the necessary fiscal space for infrastructure. It is absolutely crucial that we maintain infrastructure as a spending priority,” he said.

Mr. Salceda said the new administration’s budget should ensure productive spending that will produce multiplier effects and remain useful for longer periods of time.

He added that the growth of personnel spending in the budget must be contained.

“But we really need to expand fiscal space, either by collecting existing taxes better or by imposing new taxes,” he said, “because PPPs do entail the need for some fiscal space in the future.”

“Basically, a PPP is advancing public welfare but deferring public costs, but the costs will come,” he added.

Separately, the Move as One Coalition said on Thursday that active transport facilities on all road and bridge projects are urgently needed for pedestrians, cyclists and light mobility device users to lower the accident rate.

“We urge the government to incorporate active transport infrastructure in the P264 billion worth of DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) roads and bridges as required under the 2022 General Appropriations Act,” the coalition said in a statement.

Between 2019 and 2021, the Metro Manila Development Authority reported a total of 82 cyclist deaths and 4,588 injuries. 

Congress has allocated P2 billion for such facilities via the Transportation department. It also included a requirement that at least 50% of road space be allocated for public transport, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Under the Local Government Support Fund Special, local governments can also use their P10.6 billion in funds to ensure better protection for bike lanes and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as improve public parks and eco-tourism parks.

“Cyclists who are the main breadwinners and who die on the road leave their families with a huge emotional and financial loss. Those who suffer injuries require surgery, physical therapy, and time to recuperate. Often, they cannot afford the medical expenses and lost income when they miss days at work,” it said.

“The Coalition believes that Filipino cyclists should arrive alive. We demand more than just thoughts and prayers from the government for the cyclists who have died on our unsafe roads,” it added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan