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Aboitiz supports BBB anew; heeds call for private sector role in post-ECQ recovery

Press Release

May 13, 2020

Aboitiz Group infrastructure unit Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc. welcomes the government’s renewed commitment to pursue key projects under the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program and its recognition of the private sector’s role in ensuring these projects continue to be developed.

In recent media reports, National Economic Development Authority Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua was quoted saying that “enjoining more private sector participation in the COVID-19 recovery plan” will accelerate economic recovery in the wake of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) crisis. In particular the private sector, Chua also said, will play “a very big role” in these plans.

Chua also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to BBB. “We remain committed to getting our ‘Build, Build, Build’ program back on track,” Chua said in a May 7 statement, while adding in a separate newspaper report that “we will continue to pursue a lot of the infrastructure program because that is an important element in our recovery.”

Aboitiz InfraCapital President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cosette V. Canilao echoed this sentiment and reaffirmed its support to the government’s initiatives.

“Increasing infrastructure spending, whether funded by government or private sector, will play a significant role in helping rebuild our economy. We stand ready to support the government by investing in the development of key infrastructure projects.”

Cosette V. Canilao, Aboitiz InfraCapital President and Chief Executive Officer

For April 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported this month a 2.2% inflation rate (slower than 2.5% in March 2020). The country’s gross domestic product, meanwhile, declined by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2020, the first contraction since the fourth quarter of 1998.

In March, Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin M. Aboitiz said, “One sure way to keep the economy stimulated is the immediate implementation of the government’s infrastructure program, especially the projects of national significance.”

PPP as a solution, ongoing projects

Aboitiz InfraCapital believes that PPPs in particular, can help fill in any gaps brought about by funding reallocations amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“We understand that the government earmarked funding from other programs, including infrastructure projects, to address the COVID-19 impact. The private sector through PPP, could take up the void that the reallocation from infrastructure projects has created,” Canilao explained.

For Aboitiz InfraCapital’s common tower project, discussions with partners Globe Telecom, Smart Telecom, and Dito Telecommunity on the first batch of towers are still ongoing.

“The current crisis has clearly proven the urgent need for digital infrastructure to support better telecommunication services, and the Aboitiz Group is ready to provide this through our common tower project,” Canilao noted. On-the-ground activities such as site surveys and site acquisitions are expected to resume once the Luzon and local ECQs are lifted.

Aboitiz InfraCapital also said it is ready to resume discussions with the government for its airport bids (Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Laguindingan Airport, and Ninoy Aquino International Airport [NAIA] as part of the NAIA Consortium), post-ECQ.

“We remain keen on the airport projects as we believe that these are vital in reviving the economy. As with all of the Aboitiz Group’s projects and businesses, we are assessing COVID-19’s impact on our proposals,” Canilao noted.

Canilao further emphasized the need for the government and the private sector to work more closely together in putting in place programs that would revive the travel and tourism industry, as it is one of the hardest-hit sectors in light of the current COVID-19 crisis.

Aboitiz InfraCapital is also open to discussing with the government its unsolicited proposal along with the Ayala Group and Unisys, for a National Identification Card (ID) system previously submitted to the PSA in 2018. The urgent need for a National ID system became even more apparent under the present conditions to help hasten COVID-19 aid distribution.

“We believe in the project and would be happy to discuss with the government should they consider our proposal,” Canilao said.

For Apo Agua, the Aboitiz Group’s bulk water supply project with the Davao City Water District, regular meetings are being conducted to assess and mitigate COVID-19’s full impact on the project timeline.

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