THE government will borrow P54 billion to finance its planned buyout of Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3) next year but there is no guarantee the amount will be enough to give it full control of the rail line, a lawmaker said on Monday.
“That amount, which was authorized by DOF (Department of Finance) Secretary Cesar Purisima to effect the MRT 3 buyout, is actually a loan. Thus, although it is unprogrammed, once the loan has been signed, it will be reflected in the GAA (General Appropriations Act) and the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) is apparently to push through with the buyout,” Senator Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate finance committee, said.
Escudero, however, added that P54 billion may still not be enough to give the government full control of MRT3.
That amount, will also not cover the needed expenses to improve the operation of the MRT3, which should be the main concern of the DOTC following the series of service interruptions brought about by technical glitches and rail breakages, he said.
The amount is too small compared with the asking price of the Metro Rail Transit Holdings (MRTH) of P112 billion, he said.
The DOTC earlier said that of the proposed P54 billion appropriation, P40 billion would be used to pay for the bonds held by the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines, P10 billion will be used to purchase MRTC common stock in order for the government to have the majority control, while the remaining P3 billion will be for miscellaneous expenses.
“Granting we pay the bonds in LBP and DBP, which are technically government anyway, why scrape Juan dela Cruz’s tight resources? The remaining balance is too miniscule to really own back MRT 3, why force the issue then?” Escudero pointed out.
Because of this, Escudero said that he will most likely slash the amount from the GAA or realign it to more essential services for the general public, like much-needed infrastructure to ease traffic congestion and disaster preparedness programs.
Some members of the Senate and officials of the Department of Finance met Monday for an executive session to discuss the proposed MRT3 buyout. When interviewed by reporters after the executive session, Escudero said that he is still unconvinced with the planned government takeover of the MRT 3.