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Bulacan airport concession terms under review

BusinessWorld Online

THE GOVERNMENT is readying the concession terms for the proposed P735-billion airport in Bulacan, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

“The draft concession agreement has been submitted to us by the DoTr (Department of Transportation), which means that it had been agreed by the two parties,” NEDA Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan said in a briefing yesterday, when asked about the progress of San Miguel Corp.’s unsolicited proposal for the Bulacan International Airport.

However, he said that it has to be further reviewed by an inter-agency committee and the NEDA Board, before it enters the Swiss challenge stage.

He added that the NEDA does not have a timeline for when the government can proceed with the bidding.

“The draft concession agreement for the Bulacan airport is now under review by an interagency group. If the draft is consistent with what NEDA Board has approved, then we can proceed to the Swiss challenge,” he said.

“We cannot put a firm deadline (on the process) because we do not want to preempt other issues, but basically the review entails compliance with the directives of the ICC (Investment Coordination Committee), but it should not be handed over in an extended timeframe,” said the NEDA official.

NEDA Assistant Secretary Jonathan L. Uy added: “Essentially, after approval by the NEDA Board of the Bulacan airport proposal, the condition was to refine the concession agreement — in relation to the risk allocation and the other real contingent liability aspect of the proposal.”

The project was approved by the NEDA Board — chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte — in April, subject to the condition of another approval round for the concession agreement to address concerns about the proponent’s financial and technical capability to deliver.

San Miguel has said that it can implement the project without a financing partner.

The project involves the construction, operation, and maintenance of a 2,500-hectare airport in Bulakan, Bulacan, that features an 8.4-kilometer airport toll road that can accommodate 100 million passengers per year.

Since the project is an unsolicited proposal, the bidding process will undergo a Swiss challenge, under which other firms can submit counter-offers, which the original proponent has the option to match. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan