By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
THE SINGAPOREAN government, through Infrastructure Asia, is in talks with local government units (LGUs), Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) for infrastructure projects.
“We are going to have a meeting with the Asian Development Bank. We are going to engage with the PPP Center and close to 15 LGUs to talk about waste again,” Seth Tan, executive director of Infrastructure Asia (Singapore), told BusinessWorld in a recent online interview.
To recall, DBP and Infrastructure Asia signed an agreement in September 2019, during Singaporean President Halimah Yacob’s state visit to the Philippines, on knowledge-sharing to support infrastructure development in the country. Infrastructure Asia and PPP Center also signed a deal to help local agencies implement PPP projects.
“Hopefully, we will be able to understand what is needed on the ground through these discussions and be able to bring different types of partners and solutions providers that will address their needs,” Mr. Tan said.
Infrastructure Asia, a project facilitation office under the Singapore government, aims to tap into the capabilities of its private partners to meet the region’s infrastructure needs.
“A lot of companies, not just Singaporean companies but also multinational companies, are very good at infrastructure. If we manage to get them involved in infrastructure projects, that is a win for us because they also hire Singapore-based workers, and they also pay Singapore taxes. So although we are not-for-profit, we hope that through our efforts, some of these companies will end up making positive business because when they win, in a way, Singapore’s ecosystem wins. If they bring very good infrastructure to the Philippines, the Philippines wins as well. So this is our model,” Mr. Tan said.
Asked to cite specific opportunities it sees in the Philippines, he said: “I think, listening to our counterparts at DBP and PPP Center, waste seems to be an area of interest.”
“But it is not all the time about the classical waste-to-energy projects, because unlike Singapore, which is a city where everything is concentrated, the Philippines has many islands and many small cities; hence, sometimes, the volume or quality of waste may not be suitable for large-scale waste-to-energy projects, so maybe where we can bring ideas, solutions providers, and investors, would be in the mid-size waste management projects,” Mr. Tan said.
“It may not always be the waste-to-energy project, maybe processing the waste into something that can be used in the construction industry or maybe treating the waste,” he added.
Another area of interest is the digitalization of water utilities, which will help reduce non-revenue water. Another is the area of climate adaptation, which includes climate mitigation and newer forms of renewables.
Mr. Tan said some of the main activities of the Infrastructure Asia are improving access to financing across the infrastructure life cycle, connecting good-fitting solutions to infrastructure demand, project structuring, capacity building, and facilitating the sharing of infrastructure knowledge and know-how, among others.