China-funded Kaliwa Dam not overpriced, gov't says

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2019 12:59 PM

Several barangays in Mandaluyong are set to recommend the declaration of a state of calamity due to the water shortage that has affected thousands of residents. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- A China-funded dam project that is tipped as among long term solutions to a water shortage in the Philippine capital is not overpriced, government officials said Wednesday.

Comparing the costs of the winning Chinese bid against a Japanese proposal without taking into account differences in terms and foreign exchange adjustments, is like measuring an eggplant against a turnip, said Finance Asec. Tony Lambino.

By the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term the Philippines' debt from China will account for 4.5 percent of the country's total loan exposure, compared to 9.5 percent from Japan, Lambino told reporters.

The Kaliwa Dam project, as official development assistance from China will cost P12.7 billion, compared to the P18.7 billion estimate under former President Benigno Aquino, who offered it under the PPP or public private partnership scheme.

"Walang panganib na malunod tayo sa utang sa China," Lambino said.

"Nakikipagnegosasyon tayo ng husto upang makuha natin ang concessional terms mula sa ating development partners," he said.

(We are negotiating thoroughly to get concessional terms from our development partners.)

"Parehas na mura ang source of financing mula China at Japan. Halos magkalapit ang interest rates kung icoconvert sa parehas na currency," he said.

(Both sources of financing, China and Japan, are cheap. The interest rates are close if converted to the same currency.)

Lambino said it would be illegal for the government to entertain rival bids, when the Kaliwa Dam project has been awarded to China.

"Tapos na po ang bidding dito. May nanalo na," said Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Administrator Reynaldo Velasco.

(The bidding is over. We have a winner.)

Angat Dam, which supplies water to the capital is "crying" since no alternative reservoir has been built since the late 1960s, Velasco said.

A proposal to build a weir or small dam from Global Utility Development Corp would be affected by droughts since it will depend on river flows, Lambino said, adding a full-scale dam was the "right solution."