SENATOR Sherwin T. Gatchalian said he is seeking certification as urgent for three of his bills lifting restrictions that would allow foreign firms to more broadly participate in the construction industry.
He filed Senate Bill (SB) 1907 allowing foreign contractors to bid on government public works projects, SB 1909 removing the nationality requirement in the granting of licenses for contractors in construction, and SB 1921 dismantling the domestic preference policy of the Government Procurement Reform Act to encourage the entry of foreign suppliers.
He said the proposed measures address the lack of contractors and suppliers in public construction projects, which has delayed the government’s infrastructure initiatives.
“In light of the new cash-based budgeting system for 2019, there is now an even more urgent need to foster true competition in government public works projects by liberalizing the entry of foreign contractors into the industry,” Mr. Gatchalian said in a statement.
He also said lifting restrictions in the construction industry will provide “a more level playing field in public works projects,” which will encourage the entry of foreign bidders. In turn, Mr. Gatchalian said this will enable the government to deliver on infrastructure projects it has committed.
“For projects to be completed in a shorter time, we need simultaneous construction to happen. And for that to happen, we need to have foreign contractors who can also participate in government projects,” he said.
Mr. Gatchalian also expressed support for a cash-based budgeting system next year, saying that it will “instill discipline among agencies” and curb underspending.
“I see the logic of a cash-based system because this is meant to really solve underspending by speeding up spending on government projects. If you look at the utilization of most agencies, only 60% to 70% of their annual budgets are utilized,” he said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo