THE government is assessing proposals submitted for the rehabilitation of Manila’s main international gateway by two other proponents willing to “step into the shoes of the consortium” according to the Department of Finance.
The original consortium that was to have undertaken the rehabilitation of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) questioned the viability of its original proposal in the wake of the collapse in air travel due to the pandemic.
In a briefing Wednesday ahead of the President’s State of the Nation Address before Congress, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that the terms proposed by the two unidentified proponents are similar to those put forward by the proponent of the Clark International Airport expansion project.
Mr. Dominguez said Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade and Vivencio B. Dizon, presidential adviser for flagship infrastructure projects, are currently in talks with the two proponents.
“I understand that the Secretary Tugade as well as Vince Dizon who heads the infrastructure projects are in conversation with two more potential proponents for the NAIA project and apparently, these two other proponents are willing to get into an agreement with the government which is very similar to the terms of the agreement (reached with the) project proponent in Clark Airport,” he said.
“We’re not worried about it… We have two other proponents who are very willing to step into the shoes of the consortium,” he added.
Mr. Dominguez was referring to the statement issued Tuesday by the so-called “super consortium” which cited the government’s unwillingness to accept changes to the group’s proposed P102.12-billion rehabilitation project.
The group said it “can only move forward with the NAIA project under the options (for a revised deal) it had proposed.” The consortium is composed of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc; AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp.; Filinvest Development Corp.; and JG Summit Holdings, Inc.
However, Mr. Dominguez clarified that the government is not setting aside the consortium’s proposal and is only looking at the proposals submitted by the two unnamed proponents. He said it is Mr. Tugade who should disclose their identities.
“We are not setting aside the consortium, they were the ones that set it aside, It’s them who set (the agreement) aside, not us. But I’m telling you that there are two more who are interested in the project at the terms that we have indicated,” he said.
The consortium said it submitted a letter to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to consider the revised options. Mr. Dominguez said he also received a copy.
NAIA’s rehabilitation is expected to boost its capacity to 47 million passengers a year in the first two years, further expanding to 65 million after four years. The NEDA Board in November 2019 approved the consortium’s unsolicited proposal to rehabilitate NAIA.
The project is still subject to a Swiss challenge, in which other companies can submit counter proposals, which the original proponent has the right to match.
Early this year, the consortium and the government renegotiated parts of the draft concession agreement.
On other public-private partnership (PPP) funded projects, Mr. Dominguez said: “I understand that some proponents of the PPP projects have problems raising financing under the current situation” because the private sector has also been hit hard by the pandemic.
He said the government will assess all proposals for revised project terms. — Beatrice M. Laforga