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Decision on Bulacan airport seen this month

/ 05:25 AM January 02, 2018

The National Economic and Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) will decide this month whether or not it will green-light San Miguel Corp.’s proposed airport project in Bulacan.

“It was discussed in the ICC technical board. We asked DOTr [the Department of Transportation] to submit additional information to enable us to validate some of the assumptions,” Neda Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan told reporters last week.

According to Tungpalan, certain assumptions vital to reaching a decision had to be amplified such as the project’s revenue sources.

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“As you know, if it’s an unsolicited project, the reasonable rate of return will be a parameter for a Swiss challenge,” Tungpalan explained.

“We have an ICC technical board meeting on Jan. 11. Before that, we will be able to ascertain if it [the project] is ready. In other words, is there new information that would lead us to sharpen our analysis? Jan. 11 is a critical day,” according to Tungpalan.

Neda chief and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia earlier said that “more information is needed for technical evaluation” of SMC’s proposal to build a new international airport in Bulacan province.

SMC’s unsolicited proposal, which was earlier awarded an original proponent status, is being evaluated by the ICC of the state planning agency Neda.

The P700-billion new international “aerotropolis” being pitched by SMC to the DOTr would involve a massive airport covering 1,168 hectares as well as a city complex to be built at a 2,500-hectare location along Manila Bay in Bulakan town.

The proposed airport project will have six parallel runways and an initial annual capacity of 100 million passengers or over three times that of Naia.

It was proposed under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme, with SMC to operate the airport under a 50-year concession. As part of the proposal, SMC will build an expressway that will link its airport to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan.

SMC plans to complete the project within six years.

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With its offer, SMC hopes to eventually replace Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

However, Pernia had said that the government was open to accepting the proposal of seven of the country’s largest conglomerates to redevelop and rehabilitate the Naia.

Last month, it was reported that a “super consortium” comprised of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., Andrew Tan’s Alliance Globe Group Inc., Ayala Corp., Gotianun-led Filinvest Development Corp., Gokongwei-led JG Summit Holdings Inc., Lucio Tan’s LT Group and Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. would join forces to rehabilitate the country’s main gateway.

JG Summit and LT Group own the country’s two biggest commercial air carriers—Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines, respectively.

The Naia is suffering from worsening congestion as its four passenger terminals serve more than 42 million passengers a year, or 40 percent more than its design capacity.

But despite this, the government earlier on announced that under its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, improvement of the Naia will be a priority, alongside the development of the Clark International Airport as the second major airport by 2020.

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TAGS: Bulacan airport, Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), Neda Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan, San Miguel Corp.
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