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Private sector calls for more tech, infrastructure PPPs

By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

PRIVATE SECTOR groups are calling for more collaboration with the government to improve pandemic response and economic recovery projects.

Management Association of the Philippines Committee on National Issues Chair Rizalina G. Mantaring said that technology management, including that of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), can be outsourced to the private sector.

“It’s very difficult to attract very good IT people to the government because the salaries in the private sector are very high, so why don’t you just outsource the management of your technology to the private sector?” she said at a Stratbase ADR Institute event on Wednesday.

“Let the private sector do what it does best, and the government do what it does best.”

Calixto V. Chikiamco, president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom, said that there should be a fiscal policy shift towards solicited public private partnerships (PPPs) for infrastructure projects.

“I want to emphasize solicited PPP so that the infrastructure the government wants, that’s the one that gets built and not the one that just somebody’s pushing,” he said.

The government plans to finish 29 flagship infrastructure projects worth P238.48 billion before President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term ends next year. Others are already completed or in the pipeline, while 51 will be finished after Mr. Duterte’s term.

Vivencio B. Dizon, presidential adviser for flagship infrastructure projects, previously said that the government had to scrap some projects to be fiscally prudent during the pandemic.

Mr. Chikiamco at the Stratbase event said that more PPPs should be rolled out for health projects.

“The government has been very poor, especially under the pandemic, in really managing our health needs. In fact, I would suggest even a PPP in which they will be judged on the basis of health outcomes.”

Health projects should focus on preventing illnesses and maintaining good health, Mr. Chikiamco added, to reduce costs for operations and procedures.

According to former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo, providing infrastructure, education, and health services can be done through PPP.

“In general, I think the government should have that kind of principle that whatever the private sector can provide better or best, then it should be outsourced,” he said.

But he also noted how outsourcing the provision of basic services could lead to serving the interests of specific groups over a broader public interest.

“Of course, the problem here is regulatory capture,” he said.

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