MetroPac pins hopes on new SCTEX offer

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 18 2012 07:51 AM | Updated as of Oct 18 2012 03:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Metro Pacific group, led by Manuel V. Pangilinan, said it remains hopeful that the Department of Finance will consider the group’s improved offer for the contract to manage and operate the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

This was after the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) revealed that the Department of Finance wants the contract for the management and operation of SCTEX to be rebidded.

Documents furnished The STAR show that the final improved offer includes: the following:

• an increase in BCDA’s revenue share from 20 to 30 percent;

• extending the period of subsidy for BCDA’s JICA debt service from the original 2016 to 2019;

• additional fixed fees of P800 million on top of the 30-percent revenue share from years 2020 to 2023 (the 2011 BOA provided for an advance facility of P2 billion starting 2017)

Metro Pacific officials told The STAR that the DOF found the improved offer still unacceptable, although government did not give any official response to the offer. “What the DOF wanted is a full guarantee, which means that whether traffic is low or high, we will have to guarantee the JICA loan. This was unacceptable to us,” a company official said.

“As far as we are concerned, the agreement has been effective, with the stop date scheduled Dec. 31 this year. We are committed to invest as much as P600 million for year one alone, which does not include the concession fees to be paid by us. If the privatization is further delayed, it will be the motorists who will suffer,” the official added.

As early as last year, the Metro Pacific group has been awaiting word from Malacanang on the status of the much-delayed final award of the contract to operate and maintain SCTEX.

Some quarters have expressed apprehensions that President Aquino has become extremely careful with any contract he signs for fear that he may be criticized by his detractors.

MPTC, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), is allocating P300 million for a seamless integration of SCTEX with the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), which MPTC also operates.

The Office of the President is supposed to confirm the revised supplemental toll operation agreement (STOA) which was approved by the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB).

Under the revised business and operations agreement with the BCDA that built the tollroad, MNTC will operate and manage SCTEX for 33 years, while relieving BCDA of the heavy financial burden of paying the latter’s debt to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The JICA loan used to construct SCTEX will mature in 2041.

The original agreement was for MNTC to operate and manage the tollroad for 25 years, renewable for another eight years.

BCDA officials earlier said that true to the original intent of the agreement, BCDA is provided sufficient funds to repay its JICA loan through revenue sharing and agreed-on advances during shortfalls. The agreement satisfies BCDA’s requirement to cover the state firm’s debt service obligation to JICA.

Once MNTC officially takes over the SCTEX, the company plans to integrate SCTEX with NLEX. This will result in a seamless travel experience for motorists.