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Dominguez to NAIA rehab proponents: ‘Make up your mind’

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FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told private companies applying to secure the big-ticket project seeking to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to act fast and comply with the requirements, or the government will do it itself.

“So, what is the private sector doing, they want to do or they don’t want to do? Make up your mind or NAIA will do it itself. It may not be as good as the plans of the private sector, but their plans cannot be implemented anyway, so what’s the point of discussing that?” he said during the meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines held virtually on Tuesday.

Mr. Dominguez said the original proponent of the project, the so-called “super consortium,” took more than two years to review the government’s rules where it wanted to reduce its contingent liabilities and other requirements under existing laws, before dropping the project at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the consortium, composed of six conglomerates, lost its bid to rehabilitate NAIA, Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. submitted their joint proposal in mid-2020. The second bid, however, has been reportedly junked by state economic managers late last year due to its inability to prove its financial capability.

Megawide released a statement in November saying its proposal remained valid after submitting more documents to prove that it had the capital to undertake the P109-billion project.

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“Another group came in said they want to do it, but unfortunately, the law requires you to have a certain amount of capital, but they don’t have it. And the only thing we have seen so far are press releases that they have capital, but we haven’t read it in actuality,” Mr. Dominguez said.

“Let’s do something we can do and NAIA is prepared to do it,” he added.

The project to rehabilitate and decongest NAIA, one of the main international gateways to the Philippines, is part of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure program. Projects under the flagship list are targeted to be either finished or substantially started before the administration ends its six-year term in 2022.

During the same event, Mr. Dominguez aired his concern that state-run pension funds Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) as well as Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) were not setting aside certain amounts of their projected liabilities, which he said could risk their financial position in the future.

“I’m also going to do (a review of the) contingent liabilities of SSS, GSIS, and PhilHealth because, by the way, they have not been following the prescribed standards in accounting,” he said.

“No insurance company does that in the world. When I saw that, my god, is it the way to do it?” he added.

Mr. Dominguez said presenting to the public the real liabilities of the government is crucial in making sure that fiscal decisions will be based on facts.

“You will be shocked sometime this year when we publish 2020 financial statements of these corporations,” he said. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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