At Naypyidaw’s international airport, members of staff in stylish uniforms are at their posts behind ranks of check-in counters. The large departure hall is brightly lit and the air temperature pleasantly cooled. Two pilots and a glamorous young air hostess in traditional Burmese dress breeze across the polished marble floor of a terminal that would grace any European capital.

The only thing missing in this palace of modernity is passengers. 

Visitors to the office of Benigno Aquino III, the Philippine president, sometimes come away these days with a glossy 179-page, bright yellow booklet whose page headings bear scintillating titles like: “Taal Lake Fish Port & Processing Complex” and “Calamba – Los Banos Expressway.”

The booklet is a list of projects being tendered under the government’s programme of public-private partnerships (PPP) through which Mr Aquino hopes to finance the bulk of the country’s infrastructure needs.