THE Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) rehabilitation project could be awarded to its private proponents by the first quarter next year at the latest.
Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters last week the government is targeting to finish its review process for the P102-billion proposal, including the Swiss challenge, in the next six months.
“Gusto ko end of the year hanggang sa first quarter, OK pa rin naman ’yan, na-award na [I want to award the project by the end of the year until first quarter next year. That timeline is still OK],” he said.
The consortium proposing to rehabilitate NAIA is composed of seven of the country’s top conglomerates: Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc.; AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp.; Alliance Global Group, Inc.; Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp.; Filinvest Development Corp.; JG Summit Holdings, Inc.; and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
On Aug. 1, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) gave the consortium’s proposal to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for evaluation by the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC). Mr. Tugade said the NAIA proposal is on the agenda of the NEDA-ICC in this month’s meeting.
If the project successfully hurdles NEDA-ICC, it will be forwarded to the NEDA Board for the next round of review. The NEDA Board is composed of selected cabinet members, including Mr. Tugade, and chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Should the NEDA Board approve the project, it will then go through a Swiss challenge, in which third-party companies will be invited to submit counterproposals, which the original proponent has the option to match. If the consortium wins the Swiss challenge, it may automatically be awarded the project.
The consortium was given original proponent status by the DoTr in September for its NAIA unsolicited proposal. However, negotiations over concession terms prolonged the project’s award.
Earlier this year, Mr. Tugade called for all private entities with unsolicited proposals for airport projects to resubmit concession terms modeled on the agreement for the Clark International Airport. This decision was made to hasten the award of the projects, as the Clark concession agreement had been approved by NEDA.
Mr. Tugade said the NAIA consortium successfully complied, but added he cannot speak on behalf of NEDA to say the project’s approval is guaranteed. “Naniniwala naman ako na ’yung mga departamento ngayon nagtutulungan [But I believe all departments help each other],” he noted.
The proposal of the consortium is to rehabilitate and expand NAIA over a 15-year period, increasing its capacity from the current 30.5 million annual passengers to 47 million in two years and 65 million in four years. It initially wanted to start the project late this year. — Denise A. Valdez