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Purisima wants firms to invest in infrastructure

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MANILA, Philippines - Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima urged the business community to invest in the government's planned infrastructure projects to give the Aquino administration fiscal space for social services.


At the Manila Overseas Press Club's "Finance Night" on Thursday, Purisima said the Philippines should reclaim the Philippines' place in the region, saying that the country used to be one of the economic leaders in Asia some 40 years ago.


"We have a lot of things to fix at home. If we get our acts together, we have a very fertile country," the Finance chief said.


He said businessmen could help the Aquino administration by investing in the planned infrastructure projects of the government.


Purisima said the government is now making an inventory of big-ticket infrastructure projects that may fall under the planned public-private sector partnership, which President Aquino proposed during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month.


According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), one possible infrastructure project is the extension of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 1 to Masinag in Antipolo from Santolan along Marcos Highway.


During his SONA, Aquino said his government is already in talks with possible investors.


"Our solution: Public-private partnerships. Although no contract has been signed yet, I can say that ongoing talks with interested investors will yield fruitful outcomes," Aquino has said.


A NEDA official said another possible partnership between the government and private investors is the construction of an infrastructure project that would connect the North Luzon Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway.


Last May, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the local infrastructure unit of Metro Pacific Investment Corp. submitted to the government an unsolicited proposal to build a link between NLEX and SLEX.


MPTC proposed to build a P17-billion, 13.2-kilometer elevated road from the C-3 interchange to the Buendia segment of the Metro Manila Skyway.


Aside from this, the official said another possible infrastructure investment is the Laiban Dam project, which earlier caught the interest of San Miguel Corp.


The government would have to review first the parameters of each project as well as the contributions of both the public and private sector.


Purisima said if businessmen help the government invest in infrastructure projects, the administration would have more funds for social services.


The government has inherited a widening budget gap, which is expected to hit P325 billion this year from an earlier projection of P300 billion and from P298 billion last year.



Edited by Cary
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