THE government needs to privatize airports to boost tourism in the Philippines, the Public-Private Partnership (PCC) Center said after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned last week about the negative impact of such a move, especially on passengers.
“The Philippines is competing with the rest of Asia in business and tourism. The first thing that investors and tourists will see is the airport, so we really have to make sure that we have world-class airports,” PPP Center Executive Director Ferdinand Pecson told The Manila Times last Thursday.
Asked whether the government was capable of building world-class airports, he replied: “Tell me a government airport that is matching what Singapore, Hong Kong, [and]Malaysia [have]. I don’t want to say it (government) is not capable, but look at the evidence.”
Pecson’s remarks came days after IATA Director General and Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac said “airlines have not yet experienced an airport privatization that has fully lived up to its promised benefits over the long term.”
“It is important that governments take a long-term view focusing on solutions that will deliver the best economic and social benefits. Selling airport assets for short-term cash injection to the treasury is a mistake,” he added.
The remarks also came more than two weeks after former Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Director Max Sangil warned that auctioning off a 25-year concession agreement to operate and maintain Clark International Airport in Pampanga province to the private sector may endanger the work of employees there and result in higher airline fares.
The airport is the first hybrid PPP project under the Duterte administration. The government selects, finances, and builds such projects through public budding, and after they are completed puts their operations and maintenance up for bidding by private companies.
“That is something the BCDA is talking about, and has to take into consideration as it enters into agreement with the private sector,” Pecson said.
The employees “have a very valid concern. They are stakeholders. They cannot just be neglected,” he added.
The PPP center official advised people to look at the overall economic impact of the airport.
“The public has to look at the overall impact, not the individual. There are plus and minuses; you cannot just look at the minus side. There has to be a balance,” Pecson said.