MANILA, June 10 The Philippine government will
start auctioning off two waterworks infrastructure contracts
this month worth an estimated 43 billion pesos ($988 million)
under its public-private partnership (PPP) programme, a senior
The debut of utility projects in the administration's PPP
scheme comes as the government adds more road, airport and
railway tenders into its cornerstone programme, which is aimed
at addressing an infrastructure backlog.
Invitations to bid for the water projects will be published
this month, Cosette Canilao, executive director at the state
agency reviewing PPP projects, said at an investors forum on
Tuesday. Bidding will be open to both local and foreign firms.
To be auctioned off is the 24.4-billion peso Bulacan Bulk
Water Supply project, a 30-year contract to build and operate
facilities for treated bulk water in Bulacan, an industrialising
province north of Manila.
Also up for grabs is the 18.7-billion peso New Centennial
Water project. It involves constructing a dam northeast of the
capital to help ensure water security in one of the world's most
densely populated and fastest growing cities.
Metropolitan Manila's nearly 12 million residents suffer
water service interruptions, especially during the El Niño dry
weather season, as the capital relies solely on the four-decade
old Angat water reservoir system.
The contracts could be awarded in the first half of next
"We cannot let these projects not explode into full bloom,"
Gerardo Esquivel, administrator at state-owned Metropolitan
Waterworks and Sewerage System, said at the same forum.
Canilao also played down investor concerns, like
right-of-way acquisitions and risks that future administrations
will not honour contracts.
"There's a cost recovery system," she later told reporters,
adding that a measure putting more teeth into a law governing
joint public-private projects is now being reviewed in congress.
An interagency-body headed by President Benigno Aquino is
set to approve this month more PPP projects, paving way for
bidding later this year.
Set to be approved are bundled airport tenders and
construction of an expressway south of Manila, which is set to
become the most expensive state infrastructure contract at 122.8
billion pesos, Canilao said.
($1 = 43.6600 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Siegfrid Alegado; Editing by Kim Coghill)