DILG chief urges local execs to partner with private sector to fund projects

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos urged local chief executives to consider forming a partnership with the private sector to generate more funds for their projects.

"You must be creative in generating resources for your local government units (LGUs)," Abalos said in a statement on Saturday, addressing local leaders.

"There is always strategic planning," he said. "If you want to make a difference, maraming paraan [there are many ways]."

The chief of the Department of Interior and Local Government suggested utilizing the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), a project delivery mechanism under the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) program.

President Bongbong Marcos earlier listed his administration’s 10 priority projects under PPP, which include tollways, rehabilitation of a major road, and a bridge.

A law expert, however, said PPP is not only limited to infrastructure projects, but also to social services, with 'bundled' or multipurpose projects being the new trend.

Apart from BOT, Abalos also mentioned about leasing “air rights” to increase local funds.

It is “the right to physically develop and subsequently benefit or profit from the continued use of the air space above the road right-of-way,” according to the National Building Code of the Philippines.

As an example, he cited Mandaluyong City LGU allowing a mall to construct a “connector building” between its two structures during his time as the city mayor. The mall paid air rights since the space between the structures is owned by the local government, he said.

“As local chief executives of their respective LGUs, governors and mayors should always think outside the box and explore ways and means on how to get things done with the help of the private sector and other stakeholders for the benefit of their constituents,” he said.

Abalos also urged local officials to review the broad taxing powers given to LGUs by the Local Government Code of 1991 to increase their resources.

He highlighted how decentralization will affect local leadership and the powers — police powers, eminent domain, and taxation — granted to LGUs by the code.

"Devolution is important because it would give LGUs the power and funds needed to effectively solve the issues of your constituents," he stated.