THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the capacity of contractors remains sufficient to service the government’s aggressive infrastructure plans, after acknowledging last month concerns about a shortfall in skilled construction labor.
Speaking to reporters during the second Philippine Congress at the Philippine International Convention Center, DTI Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Ease of Doing Business Ruth B. Castelo said that contractors are able to handle the government’s 75 flagship programs.
“We’re the regulatory body for the contractors in the industry. We have around 10,000 accredited contractors with gross financial contracting capacity of P4 trillion,” she added.
Ms. Castelo, who heads the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines, also said a number of these contractors already do overseas projects in places like the Middle East.
“There’s no problem on the capability [of our contractors], but in case foreign contractors have a technology that we do not have, they’re welcome to come here,” she added.
“The industry is actually open to contractors. PCAB (Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board) accredits foreign contractors. We issue quadruple A licenses if they bring in capital and we issue special licenses also to joint ventures between foreign and Filipino firms.”
“We do not shut our doors to foreign contractors. If there’s a huge clamor and the President says to liberalize the sector, we’re going to follow.”
When asked about the per-project basis of special licenses — which has been cited as a barrier to entry for foreign contractors — Ms. Castelo said companies tend to have various partners on each project.
“They can apply for a regular license but with a capital infusion of quadruple A requirements of P1 billion. We have Filipino companies who are in the quadruple A category so foreign contractors coming in may apply for quadruple A category as well,” she added.
Ms. Castelo said regulators are also open to lowering the threshold if required.
During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations + 6 Construction Forum last month, Ms. Castelo noted that the industry needs about 2.5 million workers to keep up with big-ticket infrastructure projects nationwide. The latest estimate for the number of construction workers is 3.3 million. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato