DOTC drags foot on P13B upgrade of airport facilities

By Cai U. Ordinario, BusinessMirror

Posted at May 03 2012 07:18 AM | Updated as of May 03 2012 10:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The multibillion-peso project that seeks to promote air safety by upgrading all the technical equipment and maintaining existing facilities in airports nationwide continues to hang fire with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) unwilling so far to provide counterpart funding for it.

The original date for completion was February 2007; it is now project for completion in June 2013.

The P13.272-billion Communications Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) Systems Development project is still being reviewed by the DOTC. And official statements indicate they seem in no hurry to see it implemented.

“We’ve gotten a consultant to conduct the study. The final decision will have to await the review of the consultant,” Transportation Undersecretary Rene K. Limcaoco told reporters at the sidelines of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Forum at the SMX Convention Center. The forum is part of the government-sponsored events in the weeklong Asian Development Bank (ADB) 45th Annual Governors’ Meeting in Manila.

Limcaoco also said the DOTC has not made any move to extend the loan validity for the project. He said that ultimately, any extension for the loan would have to be made through the Department of Finance (DOF).

Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) is extending a loan of P9.586 billion for the project. The loan was signed in February 2003; it is now re-scheduled to close in June 2013.

“Whatever the findings, if we agree with them, then [we will adopt them]. The review is being done and there were initial findings already so it looks like we’re on track naman,” Limcaoco said.

Documents from the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) earlier showed that after 10 years the project’s civil works and other components remained below 10-percent completion because the DOTC has not provided the necessary counterpart funding for the project.

The progress of physical accomplishment for the package for the construction of the whole CNS/ATM system was only 1.74 percent; the building/civil works for the radar sites was progressing at a 0.01-percent pace.

The CNS/ATM was created to establish satellite-based CNS/ATM systems according to the specifications of the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao); deploy vital air-transport communication, surveillance and information facilities; and replace aging communication and air traffic equipment in selected airports nationwide.

The project has two work packages: The first is for the design and construction of the ATM center and ATM Automation System; the second is for the whole CNS/ATM system.

Due to these, documents showed that the availment rate or the loan amount’s cumulative use, according to a multi-year schedule, was at 13.52 percent, enough for it to make it into the Neda’s official development assistance (ODA) Alert Mechanism. The Alert Mechanism lists problems that may lead to more cost overruns in the future.

The disbursement rate or the percentage of actual disbursement against target disbursement for the period was also low at only 58.29 percent while the project’s utilization rate, which reflects the physical accomplishment of the project, is at 9.9 percent.