Business & Economy

Gov’t to remove restrictions on FINL to expedite infra programs

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To fast-track the rollout of infrastructure projects and enjoin greater private sector participation, the government will remove the restriction on foreign contractors from its investment negative list, the country’s chief economist said Thursday, Sept. 6.

Also, the government is firming up loan agreements worth over $9 billion from China, Japan and South Korea to finance the planned infrastructure buildup under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, officials said during the Second Annual Philippines Energy and Infrastructure Finance Forum.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the forum that part of the moves toward further liberalizing the foreign investment negative list (FINL) include the removal of the restriction on international contractors from their participation in infrastructure projects.

Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, told reporters that at present, foreign contractors can only hold a maximum share of 40 percent in firms operating in the country.

The Neda chief said once the restriction is lifted, possibly by administrative means, 100-percent foreign contractors can bid for flagship, big-ticket projects that are of national significance.

Neda earlier identified 75 flagship, “game-changing” infrastructure projects that the administration plans to start and complete until 2022.

At the same forum, Finance Undersecretary Karen Singson said they expect $1.8 billion in financing from China and Japan to come in starting this year until next year, part of the two countries’ commitments worth a total of $9 billion in the next five years.

Singson told reporters that the Chinese and Japanese loans be for the P2.7-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the P10.9-billion New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, and the P355.6-billion Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1.

Also, there was “a lot of progress” in the bilateral negotiations for financing from South Korea, Singson added.

The South Korean loans, which have “very attractive” terms, will be for the $97-million Panguil Bay Bridge that will connect Misamis Occidental to Lanao del Norte in Mindanao, as well as the $183-million Cebu International Container Port, she said. –

The Filipino Express

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