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A PPP can be a PowerPoint presentation, etc.

A PPP can be a PowerPoint presentation, etc.

AS we begin this New Year, we must reflect on “PPP”. Aside from public-private partnerships, what are the other meanings of the initials “PPP”? Do these have any relevance or indicate some truth about public-private partnerships?  What are the seven truths or half-truths about PPPs?

(1) Public-private partnerships. PPP, in the broad sense, is a contract between a government agency and a private-sector proponent for an infrastructure, development and/or public-service project.

(2) PowerPoint presentations. PPPs are jokingly referred to as this type of PPP. PowerPoint presentations are needed to explain and market ideas, but this is just the first step. Creation should not end in the mind with several studies and audio-visual presentations.

(3) Perpetually pending projects. This type of PPP is like the previous PPP. Projects either remain pending in the minds of public servants or remain stuck in the award phase. At the end, people suffer because their needs are not timely addressed. Projects can remain stuck in the paper stage if government reneges on its commitments, when right-of-way obligations cause delays to project construction and completion or when regulatory approvals are not forthcoming.

(4) Post-president projects. The project life of infrastructure PPPs goes beyond the term of the sitting president, local chief executive or general manager. Projects on roads, power, water, bridges, reclamation and rail are long-term projects, which may run up to 50 years. Under the current set-up, there can be eight presidents, 16 governors or mayors and 50 heads of government corporations who can either continue, modify or, in some cases, cancel awards made by the previous administration.

(5) Pahirap sa pamilyang Pinoy (Burden for Filipino families). Every time there is an upward adjustment on toll fees, water or power rates, environmental degradation or social injustice, consumers, civil-society organizations and taxpayers rally against PPPs. Some even file cases enjoining the implementation of projects.

(6) Pasa-pasa problema (Compounding problems). PPPs are not devoid of risks, problems, conflicts and disputes. If and when the government extends subsidies, guarantees loans, waives revenues or taxes, assumes the responsibility of relocating settlers, pays the concession fees, defends a project before the courts or passes on to the consumers certain costs, problems are compounded.

(7) Pungko pamati pauli (Sit, listen and go home). These Ilonggo terms are also relevant when we deal with PPPs. We must all sit to work, meet with people and study about PPPs. We must listen, be open to ideas, learn, sometimes unlearn and relearn. After all these, we go back to the core, our homes, and be ready for another round of PPP.

May 2017 bring more public-private partnerships for the people and not become pahirap sa pamilyang Pinoy or pasa-pasa problema. Let PowerPoint presentations and perpetually pending projects come to fruition despite post-president projects. And, before we all start to work tomorrow, let us pungko pamati pauli. Happy New Year to everyone!

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