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Impatience with Philippine gridlock is growing: Ayala CEO

Inadequate infrastructure remains the Philippines' biggest challenge, says Mr Almendras.


PHILIPPINE companies can fund President Rodrigo Duterte's US$170 billion infrastructure push while China's pledges are taking time, Ayala Corp's chief executive Jose Rene Almendras has said.

"The private sector has enough resources. There's enough liquidity in the Philippine market to fund these," Mr Almendras, president and CEO of Ayala's AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp, told Bloomberg Television's Rishaad Salamat and Haidi Lun in an interview. "The government then has to make a choice - do you want lower-cost funding from China that will take a bit longer or to fast track and let the private sector in?"

Ayala is part of a consortium of seven conglomerates that's proposing to modernise and operate the capital's overcrowded and rickety airport over a 15-year period, rivalling San Miguel Corp's proposed US$14 billion project, which aims to build an airport in a province close to Manila.

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Mr Almendras, who was Cabinet secretary under Mr Duterte's predecessor Benigno Aquino, said inadequate infrastructure remains as the Philippines' biggest challenge and risks stifling economic growth if not addressed.

"If we're allowed to take over some of these projects - as we've done through unsolicited route - we would be able to do it faster and we intend to prove that it can be done faster," he said on the sidelines of the Bloomberg Sooner Than You Think technology summit in Singapore on Thursday.

A Xiamen Airlines plane accident which shut the Philippine capital's airport for 36 hours in mid-August and stranded thousands of passengers highlights the need to immediately upgrade and expand the 70-year-old terminal, Mr Almendras said.

"There's growing impatience as far as timing is concerned," he added. "Life's getting more difficult, we need to move on." BLOOMBERG