THE SENATE on Monday approved on third and final reading a priority bill that seeks to streamline the framework for public-private partnerships (PPPs) and to address bottlenecks in pursuing these ventures.

In a 20-0-0 vote, legislators approved Senate Bill No. 2233 or the proposed PPP Act, which seeks to amend the Build-Operate-Transfer Law to attract more investment and boost the government’s infrastructure program.

The bill also seeks to establish a PPP Governing Board, which will oversee policy related to PPPs.

The board will be headed by the National Economic and Development Authority Secretary, with the Finance Secretary as vice-chair.

The Commission on Audit will also be tasked to issue guidelines on auditing PPP projects.

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill on third reading in December.

As of Sept. 1, there were 104 PPP projects in the pipeline at an estimated cost of P2.521 trillion. Some 180 projects are being implemented worth P2.639 trillion, according to the Department of Finance.

“We are confident that through this measure, the identified bottlenecks and challenges in the PPP process will be effectively addressed, further fostering a more competitive and enabling environment for PPPs,” PPP Center of the Philippines Executive Director Maria Cynthia C. Hernandez said in a statement, commenting on the Senate’s approval.

She added that the proposed law will also help generate more jobs in the infrastructure industry and attract more private investment.

Senators on Monday also approved another priority bill of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. that seeks to ease the process of paying taxes, with the goal of boosting compliance with tax obligations.

Senate Bill No. 2224, written by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, will allow taxpayers to file returns and pay their taxes through electronic channels or authorized agent banks.

“We aim to simplify the process of paying taxes in the hope of enhancing tax compliance and strengthening taxpayers’ rights,” Mr. Gatchalian said last month.

At the same plenary hearing, a priority bill that aims to protect online consumers with stricter digital commerce regulations was also approved on final reading.

Senate Bill No. 1846, or the Internet Transactions Act of 2022 written by Sen. Mark A. Villar, will classify entities involved in e-commerce as businesses operating within the country, making them subject to domestic law. 

The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill on third and final reading last December. In June, the President certified the measure as urgent, citing the need to improve the regulation of e-commerce transactions and upgrade consumer protections.

“It will address the pressing need to ensure that Filipinos can harness the benefits of the digital world without compromising their privacy and security,” Mr. Villar said last month in a statement detailing the measure. — John Victor D. Ordoñez