BCDA says it was unaware of WB blacklist of Chinese firms
The head of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) admitted on Thursday he was unaware the Chinese companies that will conduct feasibility studies on major infrastructure projects for the agency had been discredited by the World Bank for alleged fraudulent practices.
“We are now aware of it and we thank the Inquirer for their diligent work,” BCDA president Vince Dizon said in a statement.
The BCDA head, however, said the World Bank’s move against the Chinese companies “does not bar them from conducting a feasibility study at their own expense especially since the project is not a WB project.”
The BCDA chief did not give a categorical answer when asked by the Inquirer earlier if he knew that the companies—China Road and Bridge Corp. (CRBC) and China Harbour Engineering Corp. (CHEC)—had been banned by the World Bank.
The bank banned CRBC in 2009 after it had established that the company engaged in fraudulent practices in a major road project in the Philippines. The ban was extended to CRBC’s parent company, China Communication Construction Company (CCCC), and its subsidiaries, including CHEC, in 2011.
The BCDA signed memorandums of understanding with CRBC for the Bonifacio Global City-Ninoy Aquino International Airport segment of the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit-Edsa project, and with CHEC for the Subic-Clark Railway project.
A group that includes several former Cabinet members under previous administrations expressed concern over the government’s dealings with these Chinese companies. The Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO) asked whether President Duterte’s government exercised “due diligence” in vetting these Chinese firms.
“The NBN-ZTE deal, although aborted, did much damage to the country’s institutions and to our relations with China. Both countries should benefit from its lessons,” the FSGO said in a statement.
Among the projects mentioned by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez that comprise the $15-billion investment pledges from Mr. Duterte’s state visit to China last week was the Cebu International and Bulk Terminal Project.
Mega Harbour Port’s partner in this project, CCCC Dredging, is the largest dredging company in the world and reportedly does reclamation work for Beijing in the disputed areas in the South China Sea.
Former Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo told the Inquirer that Chinese companies are “heavily invested in the Chinese government” and it would be difficult to determine if a Chinese company is private or state-owned.
Acedillo said the government should do business with the Chinese “the same way we do business with every-one else.”
“We should [practice] due diligence. We do not embrace them all throughout. We should be transparent about it,” Acedillo said.
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