July 12, 2011
Kathleen A. Martin
The decision of newly appointed Transportation Secretary Manuel A. Roxas III to review the P15-billion project involving the operation and maintenance of Light Rail Transit 1 (LRT-1) and Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT 3) has not turned off prospective investors, according to leaders of two business groups.
The contract for the project, which has attracted the interest of 45 groups, was initially scheduled to be auctioned off on July 11. But the Transportation department has deferred the bidding indefinitely.
On Friday, Mr. Roxas signaled that a review of the country's first public-private partnership (PPP) project could end up with the deal being taken off the auction block.
"We're studying [the deal]. I just want to make sure that the government cannot do the project itself," Mr. Roxas had said in the radio interview on Friday.
At least 16 companies have bought bid documents. The list includes Metro Pacific Investments Corp.; Ayala Corp,; DM Consunji, Inc.; Lopez-led First Balfour, Inc.; and Ramon S. Ang-chaired Optimal Infrastructure Development, Inc. Officials of interested companies were not immediately available for comment.
"It's a good thing that he (Mr. Roxas) will review it... It will be a good decision to repackage the whole thing if it will benefit the investor and the consumer," Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Francis C. Chua said by phone yesterday.
European Chamber of Commerce ofthe Philippines Executive Vice-President Henry J. Schumacher echoed the sentiment, saying separately: "It is understandable to review it... he needs to see that PPP projects are going to be successful. The last thing we want is for the first PPP project to fail."
Noting that the Transportation department is in charge of several PPP projects, Mr. Schumacher said "he's (Mr. Roxas is) going to be the main player then."
Source: Business World; The Economy; 11 July 2011