• ‘Infra demand to thrive after Aquino term’

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    Philippine infrastructure and construction will thrive in the next few years, regardless of who becomes the next President of the country, Renato Sunico, president of Republic Cement and Builder Manufacturers Inc. said.

    “I think whoever comes in as the next Administration, the infrastructure projects will continue because we have to catch up with our neighboring countries,” Sunico, the head of the country’s second-largest cement producer, said.

    “Compared with other countries, our tourism sector, in terms of infrastructure, is lagging. So we need [to continue building]roads and airports,” he added.

    Republic Cement is the second largest cement producer in the country following Holcim Philippines Inc. Sunico attributed the 14 percent yearly growth of the cement industry to the expansion of public and private construction projects.

    In the public sector, Sunico cited the government’s effort to bid out big-ticket infrastructure projects under its public-private partnership scheme as a boost to infrastructure development. The PPP scheme enables faster deployment of infrastructure with the help of the private sector in building, operating and maintaining these projects, compared to the government doing all the work, he said.

    The government has set a goal for public infrastructure spending to constitute 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year, from about 4 percent last year.

    At present, the PPP Center has awarded 12 projects, valued at more than P200 billion. More than 40 PPP projects are currently in various stage of development.

    In addition to public infrastructure investments, Sunico said the industry is also propelled by the private sector, both the commercial and residential segments.

    In the residential sector, the Republic Cement president said overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are the main drivers, since their remittances are mostly used in investments in real estate, either purchasing a brand new home, or using resources for remodeling of their existing homes.

    In terms of the commercial sector, Sunico said the main contributor is the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, which has a multiplier effect on businesses.

    “The BPO, on the other hand, is [contributing to]the commercial sector as many would put up buildings for call centers,” Sunico said, noting that a BPO building will encourage various additional developments such as condominiums and apartments, and commercial and retail establishments catering to the BPO workers.

    “If you’ll notice, these BPOs are not concentrating in major cities, but they are now going out in the other bigger cities [outside Metro Manila],” he added.

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