Gov’t still open to SMC’s Bulacan airport
The government is still open to the proposal of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. to build a massive airport in Bulacan, the country’s chief economist said.
“The airport in Bulacan is still not dead,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters last week when asked about unsolicited proposals for infrastructure projects. However, he said it was not a priority of the Duterte administration.
Pernia, who heads state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said the government would “let it go through the process—(Neda’s) Investment Coordination Committee, the ICC board, and then we will make sure there will be no conditions.”
The project is being studied by the Neda ICC technical board, Pernia said.
If found viable, SMC’s proposal would be pursued under public-private partnership (PPP) and put up for a Swiss challenge, he said.
However, Pernia said the proposed Bulacan airport would unlikely become the gateway to Manila. “The Clark international airport seems to be superior in terms of location, and it’s also much more advanced in terms of development,” he said.
Asked if they will consider SMC president Ramon S. Ang’s suggestion to replace the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) with the Bulacan airport, Pernia replied: “We will consider whether or not there are conditions. If there are conditions, then that will be a minus point.”
Pernia said they were not in a hurry to approve the project. “It’s not the focus because we want to focus on things that can be finished within three years or within the term of the President,” the Neda chief said.
Pernia added the government did not give a commitment nor special treatment to SMC with regards to its proposal.
Also, Pernia clarified that the project was never considered “dead,” although he admitted it was put on the back burner as the administration wanted to focus on the Naia and Clark airports under the National Transport Policy, which the Neda Board chaired by President Duterte approved in June.
“The Finance Secretary (Carlos G. Dominguez III) said that we welcome unsolicited proposals, so we want to honor that statement. But as I said, it will go through the process,” he said.
The P700-billion new international “aerotropolis” being pitched by SMC to the Department of Transportation would involve a massive airport spanning 1,168 hectares as well as a city complex to be built at a 2,500-hectare location along Manila Bay in Bulakan town.
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