Govt to step up power, bank assets sale in next 3 yrs

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The Department of Finance (DOF) on Tuesday said that the Duterte Administration would speed up the privatization of government assets, with a goal to complete the sales in the next three years.

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“Yes, there will be more assets to be unloaded,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said after the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) meeting on Tuesday.

In particular, Dominguez mentioned the sale of the power assets of Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), and the government’s stakes in Philippine Postal Bank and United Coconut Planter’s Bank.

“I have just talked to the PSALM people and I told them that the original plan was for PSALM to get rid of the assets after the first five years. That was 10 years ago, we have to speed up their disposal of assets,” he said.

Under Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, PSALM is mandated to manage the privatization and maintenance of National Power Corp.’s (Napocor) power-generation assets, liabilities and contracted capacities.

Among the power assets that are yet to be privatized are the 850-megawatt (MW) Sucat Thermal Power Plant; the 200-MW Mindanao Coal-Fired Thermal Power; the 982-MW Agus-Pulangi hydropower complex; the 40-MW “security capacity” of the Unified Leyte Geothermal Power Plant (ULGPP) and the bulk capacity of the ULGPP itself.

Dominguez also said that there would be a reassessment of the current value of PSALM’s assets.

“I do not believe their valuation because that is all book value. So we have to really reassess. We have to make a reassessment of their current values,” he added.

Bank sales
The Finance chief added that the privatization of the government’s stake in Postal Bank would be done as quickly as possible.

“But realistically we have to evaluate the value of the bank, they have to do the due diligence, they have to bid it out and all that. So maybe [the sale will be completed in]two years,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dominguez said the sale of the state’s stake in UCPB would require deeper study because of its legal troubles.

The UCPB was placed under the supervision of the Governance Commission for Government Owned and Controlled Corporation (GCG) in March. The GCG said that pending the end of the effectivity of the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) against the privatization of the UCPB, the GCG will begin regulating the bank as a GOCC following the Republic Act 10149 or GOCC governance Act of 2011.

To recall, the High Tribunal issued the TRO on June 30 last year, putting on hold the implementation of Executive Orders 179 and 180 signed by then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd in March 2015 to green-light the privatization and reconveyance to the government of about P74.3 billion coco levy funds.

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