MANILA – The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) has emphasized the importance of introducing amendments to the current Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law to stimulate economic growth in the country.

This, as the PLLO held Wednesday an inter-agency focus group discussion at Novotel in Quezon City to gather stakeholders' insights into the proposed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act which will repeal the BOT Law.

During the panel discussion, PLLO Undersecretary for House of Representatives Agapito Guanlao sought the participants' comments and suggestions which will be considered in coming up with a common draft of the bill.

The country, Guanlao said, would reap the benefits of revising the BOT law.

“I think this is long overdue. And I think, in this economic downturn [we are facing], we need the amendments to the BOT Law to spur economic development,” Guanlao said.

Bernardito Sayo, PLLO Undersecretary for Senate, said stakeholders' participation is vital in order to come up with a "clean copy" of the PPP bill that will be transmitted to Congress for consideration.

"We are aware of the target presented to us by both the Senate President and the Speaker at the LEDAC when they mentioned that this particular bill is one of the low-hanging fruits that may be ripe for harvest by the end of this year," Sayo said.

Stakeholders present during the meeting were the PPP Center, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Finance, representatives from the Senate and House of Representatives, and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Other participants were officials from the departments of Budget, Justice, Public Works, Transportation, Information and Communications Technology, Human Settlements, Local Government, and Environment.

The proposed PPP Act seeks to clarify ambiguities in the existing BOT Law and address bottlenecks affecting the implementation of the PPP Program.

It also aims to foster a competitive and enabling environment for PPPs through open, transparent, and efficient government regulation and by providing procedures to protect public interest and promote robust private sector participation.

On Oct. 10, PPP Center Executive Director, Ma. Cynthia Hernandez, noted that while the government recently introduced amendments to the BOT Act through revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR), some ambiguities in the law remain unresolved.

Hernandez, during the initial consensus-building workshop with PLLO on Sept. 22, stressed the need to amend the present BOT law, noting that the concept of partnerships between the public and private sectors has already "evolved."

“What used to be ‘build-operate-transfer’ is now known as PPP. What was considered to be limited to hard infrastructure projects such as power plants, toll roads, airports are now being applied to social infrastructure, ICT and services. The concept of PPP has evolved, and so the governing law needs to change as well,” she said.

The PPP Act is one of the priority bills of the Marcos administration mentioned by President Ferdinand R. Marcos in his first State of the Nation Address in July. (PNA)