• The Manila Times 6th Business Forum Philippines 2021: Steering Toward the Golden Age of Infrastructure



    The Manila Times is all set for its 6th Business Forum today, Friday, with all seven speakers ready to tackle the difficult issues surrounding “the most ambitious infrastructure development plan in Philippine history.”

    Guided by the theme Philippines 2021: Toward the Golden Age of Infrastructure, the discussions will be led by the first speaker, Secretary Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management, who will talk about “Financing the Golden Age of Infrastructure.”

    Intended as a legacy initiative of the Duterte administration, the program is pursued through a “Build, Build, Build” strategy, backed by a budget that could reach P9 trillion over the duration of his term of office.

    The initiative seeks to build modern systems of transport such as roads and bridges, as well as flood control, airports, mass transit, railways, seaports, communication and information, and new cities. At the same time, it also aims to create jobs and unlock growth across the archipelago.

    The next speaker, Vince Dizon, president and chief executive officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), will delve into the details of the government infrastructure strategy in his speech, “Build, Build, Build: Bridging the Infrastructure Gap – the most Ambitious Infra Plan in Philippine History.”

    Based on the latest data from the National Economic and Development Authority, 17 infrastructure projects worth P392.93 have been approved by the government for implementation. Twelve of these projects were inherited from previous administrations. Those approved by the present NEDA Board are just a handful, compared with what are currently being prepared for implementation in the next few years.

    Before the Forum discussions go deeper, Sheila Lobien, regional director of Jones Lang LaSalle, will present an overview of the Philippine property market.

    The Forum will then proceed with a presentation by Lars Wittig, country director of Regus Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, on “How to Stay Productive Amid a Challenged Infrastructure.”

    The World Bank’s country director for the Philippines, Mara Warwick, will share her “International Experience in Infrastructure Development.”

    The general manager of Philippine Retirement Authority, lawyer Bienvenido Chy is also set to present ways of “Enhancing Infrastructure for Long Stay Tourism and Retirement Experience.”

    To cap the discussions, Ricardo Penson, chair and CEO of Penson & Company, Inc., will talk about his vision of the shape of infrastructure fitting for the next generation in his speech, “Unsolicited Proposals: Infra for the Next Generation.”

    With a question-and-answer session after each presentation, the Forum, emceed by The Times business columnist Kim Bernardo-Lokin, will give delegates a chance to seek clarification from the speakers.

    Set to be held at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City, the Forum, will open at 9:00 a.m. and run until 4:00 p.m. Registration will start at 8:00 a.m.

    Speakers’ brief profiles:

    Secretary, Department of Budget and Management
    Prior to his current position, Dr. Benjamin Diokno served as fiscal adviser, chairman and CEO of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and as chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration.
    In his third tour of duty as Budget secretary, he intends to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy to finance investments in human capital development and public infrastructure. He also seeks the passage of a Budget Reform Bill to ensure that future budget plans comply with the pertinent laws of the land.

    President and CEO, Bases Conversion and Development Authority
    Vivencio Dizon is also acting chairman of the Clark Development Corporation. Prior to holding the executive positions in BCDA, he was a Consultant for then Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano; Undersecretary for Political Affairs of the Office of the President and Chief of Staff of the Office of Senator Edgardo Angara. He obtained his degrees in Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Bachelor of Science in Commerce, major in Management of Financial Institutions from De La Salle University. He was also a Chevening Scholarship awardee in 1998 and obtained his Master of Science in Applied Development Studies from the University of Reading in the UK.

    Regional Director, JLL Philippines
    Sheila Lobien is the head of Project Leasing and the Regional Director of Markets of JLL Philippines. Prior to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), she was the general manager and coaching GM of Regus Manila’s offices. She spearheaded in leasing out 25 projects (close to 600,000 square meters of office space) in record time. Currently, Lobien and her team are relentless in replicating their success in leasing out 41 more exclusive arrangements (close to 560,000 square meters), maintaining JLL’s leadership in project leasing/landlord representation in the Philippines.

    Lars Wittig:
    Country Manager, Regus Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia
    As country manager for the Philippines since 2012, Lars oversees Regus’ strategic growth and operations in this part of the world. He leads a number of teams at the group and company levels dealing with sales, marketing, operations, finance, development, human resources, customer services and training. In April this year, Vietnam and Cambodia were added to the countries under his management. Lars’ marketing initiatives have generated a tenfold increase in demand since 2012, drawing more than 1,000 enquiries as received monthly by Regus Philippines. Simultaneously, the number of the company’s fully owned subsidiaries and business locations has expanded from four to 25 in five years and is still growing.

    Country Director
    World Bank office in the Philippines
    Trained as an environmental engineer, Mara Warwick has expertise in flood management, urban development, urban environmental services and disaster risk management.
    Before she assumed the role of Country Director in the Philippines, Mara Warwick served as the Portfolio and Operations Manager for China, Mongolia and Korea. In this role, she supported programs and projects in climate change mitigation and adaptation, infrastructure development and social service reform in China and Mongolia.

    General Manager, Philippine Retirement Authority
    Bienvenido Chy is a graduate of San Beda College with a Bachelor of Laws, Class ’72.
    An immigration practitioner recognized for meritorious service as former chief legal officer at the Bureau of Immigration, Chy was appointed Acting Associate Commissioner of the Bureau in 2009. His credentials paved the way for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint him to his current post as General Manager of the Philippine Retirement Authority.

    President and CEO
    Penson & Company Inc.
    Ricardo L. Penson is currently the president and CEO of the following companies: 1) Penson & Company, Inc. (P&CI), an equity investment and holding firm, proponent of the Seven Rivers Bulk Water Project, the Metro Manila Flood Mitigation Project and the Sangley Point General Aviation Redevelopment Project; 2) Ausphil Tollways Corporation (ATC), lead proponent of the North Luzon East Expressway (NLEE) Project; and 3) Philco Aero Inc. (PAI) of the Clark International Airport Terminal 2 (T2) Project, in which diversified San Miguel Corporation has taken a substantial equity investment, as well as in NLEE.


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