UK envoy pushes for creation of task force on PPP project implementation

MANILA-- British Ambassador Asif Ahmad has urged the Philippine government to create a task force that would make decisions on developing and undertaking public-private partnership PPP) projects, as more British firms look for opportunities in the country's infrastructure sector.

"I think it's a question of defining these projects and getting approvals but on a task force basis The country needs to adopt) a task force approach when it comes to decision making," he said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

Ahmad noted that PPP projects have to secure the approvals of many individual agencies, local government units and government departments.

"I think you need to have a cluster that says we are the road transport cluster, the rail transport cluster that simply says this is what we need," he said.

The ambassador said it also imperative for the country to have clear-cut policies on taxation.

"You also need clarity on the Constitution because there are still so many negative list, negative areas where foreigners are restricted. And if that is clarified, changes are made in the Constitution, you will see a big difference," he added.

Ahmad cited the Duterte administration's plan to increase infrastructure spending to accelerate project developments.

"It's pretty good and one has to also look at the absorptive capacity. There are only limits of how fast entities can progress," he said.

Ahmad bared that more British companies are keen to increase their investments in infrastructure projects in the Philippines.

"Most definitely in the area of infrastructure because this is where our expertise is --in design, project management," he said.

The ambassador said British firms have involvements in Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Manila Railway project and Ninoy Aquino International Airport NAIA) operations.

United Kingdom UK) is known worldwide for its expertise in airport and aviation wherein best practices and innovations can be used as reference and applied to the local context.

It is also a pioneer in railway development and is widely recognized for its capabilities in planning, station design, project delivery, rail infrastructure and equipment, asset management and safety and security, including operations and training.

Apart from infrastructure, Ahmad identified other key areas of "broader partnerships" for the Philippines and UK.

He said these are areas of trade and investments, tourism, defense, regional security, response to calamities and healthcare.

"Business-to-business links here have been always very strong and people follow opportunity. And the economy signalling a 7-percent growth when China is slowing down; when the UK itself needs trading partners beyond traditional market like Europe, this is a very, very good market to look at," the ambassador added.

Source: Philippines News Agency