PPP Conversations No. 4 with National Housing Authority General Manager Jun Escalada
The socialized-housing gap cannot be plugged by the National Housing Authority (NHA) alone. Support from the private sector, among other stakeholders, must be harnessed. Under the innovative and participatory leadership of NHA General Manager Marcelino “Jun” Escalada Jr., public-private partnerships (PPPs) will be aggressively promoted.
The NHA will soon adopt its PPP Guidelines and organize a conference to sound off invitations for projects. The NHA recently signed a memorandum of understanding for a possible PPP for informal-settler families in Metro Manila. Escalada shares his thoughts on PPP.
What is your concept of PPP?
PPP is an arrangement that the government can adopt to hasten economic development by encouraging the private sector to help out in improving the quality of public assets and the efficiency of public services. The thrust of the current administration is to “build, build and build” infrastructure for the next six years. This opens up opportunities for the private sector to help the government boost economic growth and create more jobs.
What makes PPP a viable development strategy for socialized housing?
I think PPP is a viable development strategy for socialized housing. PPP will bring in private-sector capital and expertise in addressing the increasing housing need. Based on a 2016 housing-need study, the Philippines has a projected need of 6.57 million units by 2022, which represents accumulated needs for socialized, economic, low-cost and the open market.
Is NHA ready for PPP?
National Housing Authority (NHA) is in the process of implementing its reorganization plan. The NHA is tooling up its work force to address the challenges of the prevailing housing backlog. The NHA needs to improve its asset-management capability and maximize the utilization or disposition of its assets. As such, the PPP is the NHA’s opportunity to develop its resources. Given this scenario, I would like to believe that the NHA is ready to explore the PPP mode of procurement for its socialized housing program.
What are the challenges and risks of PPPs?
As in any new venture, there are always risks and challenges. I would like to present an analogy—the PPP is just like the railway and the train that would ferry the people to their destination. The railway and the train must be properly planned, equipped and maintained well to ensure that the people safely arrive to their destination. The PPP, therefore, is the vehicle and infrastructure support for the NHA to accomplish its mandate in providing socialized housing. The challenge to the NHA is how it can creatively prepare for this new mode of procurement and how it can creatively allocate site risks between the government and the private sector
toward a win-win solution.
What is your message to the public?
Heading one of the key agencies in the housing sector under the Duterte administration is a challenge for me. But true to my commitment as a public servant, I will, to my utmost ability, help steer this agency toward a more improved, effective and efficient public-service delivery. Laying down fundamental changes, developing more responsive housing programs, building a culture of quality and initiating innovations in how we do things at the NHA is my pledge and commitment.