LA TRINIDAD, Benguet July 13 – The House committee on public works wants government to have a greater stake in the implementation of multi-billion Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) schemes in their respective areas of jurisdiction to allow the people to have greater benefits from the initiatives of the private sector, especially in the remote villages of the country.
Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, said initial hearings of the committee resulted in the consensus among lawmakers on the need to amend the BOT law to allow concerned government agencies and local governments to have greater exposure in the identification and subsequent implementation of BOT projects in their places.
“We have to study the matter because the investors are the ones gaining the upper hand in the implementation of BOT projects thereby leaving the concerned government agencies and local governments in reaping the benefits of such projects,” Cosalan stressed.
While it is true that structures built through BOT will be turned over to the local government upon the expiration of the lease period, Cosalan cited the committee is studying into producing provisions to the BOT law that will ensure that host communities will still have a direct hand on the operation of privatized facilities for the greater benefit of their constituents, especially when such facilities are related to public health, delivery of social services among others.
According to him, the House committee will try to calendar the deliberations of the proposed amendments to the BOT law after the opening of the third regular session of Congress in order to catch up with the political season and so as not to jeopardize their initiatives to improve the benefits of government when projects are subjected to BOT schemes among others applicable under existing laws, rules and regulations.
Cosalan cited aside from the payment of lease rentals, business and real property taxes to the host communities, local governments do not get added benefits from the operation of privatized facilities and end up reaping the fruits of the schemes after 25 or 30 years depending on the terms of the contract.
The lawmaker underscored one of the proposed amendments to the BOT law would be the reduction of the period of the lease from a maximum of 30 to 50 years to a minimum of 25 years and a minimum of 10 to 15 years in order to allow government to takeover such facilities in good condition.
He explained the 30 to 50 years lease period already renders the facilities privatized in dilapidated condition, thus, the government still has to spend huge amounts of money in order to make such facilities feasible anew.
He added another provision they want to incorporate in the BOT scheme is for the private developer to rehabilitate the facilities prior to turnover to the government in order to minimize the expenditure of public funds just to upgrade a facility that was exploited, developed and utilized for private purposes.
Cosalan called on concerned local government units to submit to the committee their other proposals on how to improve the BOT scheme projects for consideration once Congress will resume its session by the end of this month and to give government more benefits from such privatized projects in their respective areas of jurisdiction.