‘PPP bill, inimical to public interest’

A proposed law threatens to further privatize social services through government deals with profit-driven companies.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares called on the Senate not to pass the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) bill, which he said will only ensure “super profits” for private companies.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 6331 or the PPP bill on third and final reading last night. The measure, an amendment of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, is undergoing interpellation at the Senate.

Colmenares and his colleagues in the Makabayan bloc thumbed down the bill, saying the law will be inimical to public interest and increase the cost of public service.

“The PPP law will institutionalize sovereign guarantee through the viability gap fund and billions of public funds will be given to private companies to ensure their super profits,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares said the PPP Act will privatize government services and will result in expensive rates in toll ways, MRT and LRT fares and even government health care, which are subject to the government’s private-partnership program.

According to independent think-tank Ibon, PPP concession agreements under the Aquino administration have been characteristic of lopsided terms such as charging on public funds the difference between notional and approved fees, right of way, and government liabilities that have not been incurred. The research institution further said that government has also allocated around P123 billion ($2.57 billion) of the national government budget to a handful of PPPs with the country’s wealthiest businessmen in 2015 and 2016.

Ibon said the PPP Act will guarantee that public funds are available to protect the commercial interests of investors. It will also form a Contingent Liabilities Fund (CLF) to be funded by foreign debt and local resources to ensure a steady source of public funds to meet government’s financial obligations arising from PPP contracts, the group added.

The measure, Colmenares said, will also exempt private corporations from taxes including local taxes. He said the bill centralizes authority in Malacanang through the automatic grant of permits licenses and franchises deemed important by the President.

Research group Ibon said the PPP bill disallows courts from issuing temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions and preliminary mandatory injunctions against PPP-related acts.

“…[i]t will restrict the mandate of courts and regulatory bodies, the remaining institutions assigned to defend the people from onerous arrangements,” Ibon said.

Colmenares said that if the PPP bill would be enacted, “the people would be constrained to go to the Supreme Court to stop it.” ()

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