Iloilo City

THE TRANSPORTATION department has not done enough to mobilize private sector participation in its projects as mandated, a key Senator said, noting delays to the privatization of the Port of Iloilo.

At a finance committee hearing on the Transportation department’s 2022 proposed budget, Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) had committed to invest P8 billion as far back as five years ago, but no action had been taken.

Discussions on the ICTSI unsolicited proposal have stalled amid back-and-forth between the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the National Economic and Development Authority’s (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said.

The Secretary said he expects contracts to be signed by the first quarter of 2022, giving the various participants six months to firm up the unsolicited proposal, which by government procurement rules must undergo a Swiss challenge to bring out any other competing proposals.

“In the next six months, can we have a signing of the operation of the port by the private sector, so that we can at least look forward to the private sector investing the committed P8 billion, to start with, for the improvement of the port?” asked Mr. Drilon, whose constituency is Iloilo, to which Mr. Tugade agreed.

Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay-Angeles also asked whether other projects have been on hold. The DoTr noted similar situations in the General Santos Port and the Davao Sasa Port.

Ms. Binay asked for the status of the two other ports and the details of the delays to be sent to the committee.

The department also said that overall, more than 450 seaports have been established and developed in the past five years.

Ms. Binay also said P726.8 million for the maritime infrastructure program posted disbursement rates of between zero and 20%, according to the Commission on Audit.

Transportation Finance Undersecretary Giovanni Z. Lopez said there were some social tourism port projects that remained unimplemented or delayed. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan