By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

INTERNATIONAL Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has received notice from the country’s port regulator that its P8.7-billion proposal to develop Iloilo ports will now undergo evaluation.

The Razon-led port operator said in a statement yesterday the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has acknowledged the completeness of its proposals, signaling the start of the 60-day period to evaluate the project.

“ICTSI received from PPA a letter of acceptance for completeness in accordance with the Revised Guidelines and Procedures for Entering into Joint Venture Agreements between Government and Private Entities… PPA will now begin to evaluate the legal, financial and technical merits of ICTSI’s proposal…,” the listed firm said.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago was asked to confirm the details but did not respond as of press time.

ICTSI submitted to PPA last year an unsolicited proposal to modernize, operate and maintain two Iloilo ports: the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex and the Port of Dumangas.

This includes “dredging and deepening of the drafts and channel to allow the direct entry of new generation, international vessels; and purchase of modern quayside crane handling equipment estimated to cost around P1.35 billion.”

PPA previously said it could not begin its evaluation of the proposal as it still lacked some details.

With the sending of a letter to ICTSI signifying the completeness of the proposal, the PPA now has a maximum of 60 days to decide whether or not it will give ICTSI an original proponent status (OPS) for the project.

“With the Transportation Department’s recent directive to fast track unsolicited bids for port projects, we are confident that we will be able to assist the Philippine government more in its goals of upgrading the country’s port network…,” ICTSI Global Corporate Head Christian R. Gonzalez said in the statement.

If granted OPS, ICTSI will have the advantage once the proposal is approved by the National Economic and Development Authority and is up for Swiss challenge. The Swiss challenge is the competitive bidding process where third-party companies are invited to submit counterproposals to a project, which the OPS holder has the right to match.

“We are fully committed to working with the PPA on this project, and are hopeful to be granted original proponent status,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

The attributable net income of ICTSI stood at $184.9 million in the nine months to September, up 29% from last year on the back of strong operating income from its port operations worldwide.

Shares in ICTSI at the stock exchange inched up 0.10 point or 0.08% to close at P122.30 each on Monday.