Foreign firms eyed amid 'shortage' of contractors for infra projects

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2018 08:34 PM

Traffic builds up as workers put up the Skyway project. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Philippine laws on building contractors need to liberalized to address the shortage of construction firms participating in the government's massive infrastructure push, government officials said on Thursday.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said that at present, the government can only tap local contractors, and this has led to delays in some projects.

“Kaya rin nagkakaroon ng delay dahil wala nang local contractor na pwede pang mag-participate sa Build, Build, Build projects,” Gatchalian said during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.

(That's why there are delays because there are no more local contractors who can participate in the Build, Build, Build projects.)

Gatchalian proposed to lift the equity restriction on building contractors to allow foreign construction firms to participate in the Duterte administration’s "Build, Build, Build" program.

“If we, let’s say amend the law and we allow foreign contractors to participate this year, that is possible na makahabol tayo (we can catch up) for 2022,” he added.

Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president and CEO Vince Dizon also backed calls to liberalize the construction industry during the hearing.

“Kung sila may-ari ng kumpanya, dadalhin nila yung technology nila, dadalhin nila ang capital nila at makakagalaw sila ng mabilis,” Gatchalian said citing Dizon's views.

(If they own the company, they can bring their own technology, they can bring their capital and they can move much faster.)

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar had earlier admitted that there were issues with local contractors.

"Yung ibang contractors, hindi na nila kayang tapusin yung projects sometimes dahil kulang sila sa equipment, minsan dahil kulang sa kapital, also may delays dahil sa right-of-way issues," Villar said.

(Other contractors, they can't finish the projects anymore because they lack the equipment, sometimes the capital. There are also delays because of right-of-way issues.)