Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) said on Wednesday it will have to study first a Malacanang directive to subject the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) project to a Swiss challenge to determine whether or not it will make an appeal.
MNTC bagged the SCTEX contract during the Arroyo Administration. The company renegotiated the contract in 2011, but the Aquino Administration delayed the approval of the concession because of concerns on revenue sharing raised by the Department of Finance (DOF).
“We await the formal notice of approval from Malacanang. We will comment at an appropriate time after we read the notice,” MNTC President Ramoncito Fernandez said in a text message to The Manila Times.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President Arnel Paciano Casanova said President Aquino wants a Swiss challenge to MPIC’s proposal to operate the SCTEX.
A Swiss challenge is a form of public procurement that requires a government agency that has received an unsolicited bid for a public project to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or exceed it.
“Yes, we did receive the memo from Office of the President (OP) for the price challenge. We are drafting the terms of reference for the price challenge based on the OP instructions. We may start the publication of the TOR [terms of reference]by early December,” Casanova said.
“We are still waiting for the details of the price challenge requirement. We need to study this first before we can decide on our next steps,” Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) President Rodrigo Franco said in a text message.
Franco said the company will study the President Aquino’s directive before making an appeal.
“We believe that the requirement for the approval of the President is based on the TRB [Toll Regulatory Board] requirement, which has nothing to do with the commercial terms of the project and therefore as far as qualifications of MPTC [Metro Pacific Tollways Corp.] and Manila North Tollways Corp. [MNTC] are concerned, BCDA should have no problem with that,” said Jose Ma. Lim, MPIC president and chief executive officer.
“After all, they pre-qualified our company in the public bidding which failed and was negotiated into this contract,” he added.
MPTC and MNTC are subsidiaries of Metro Pacific Investment Corporation.
The MPIC president said the contract has been renegotiated two times and is now on its third year.
Lim said that as far as the concession is concerned, MPIC believes that it is on track and it is really up to the BCDA to explain to the Office of the President that in so far as the approvals that are needed are concerned, the company should have no problem in obtaining that. Hence, there would be no problem in implementing the signed agreement.
“BCDA has recommended it to the Office of the President. As far we know, the DOF [Department of Finance] also supports the commercial terms,” Lim said.
A DOF review of the contract is necessary because the funds for the SCTEX construction will come from a loan provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.