Gov’t rehab of NAIA an option

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    The government is willing to undertake the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) if the private sector does not do it, according to Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance (DOF) secretary.

    Dominguez in in a virtual forum yesterday said the private sector should “make up its mind” if it wants to do the enhancement project for the country’s main international gateway, otherwise government will modernize the airport.

    “Make up your mind because if not, NAIA will do it itself. It may not be as good as the plans of the private sector, but their plans… they cannot be implemented anyway so what’s the point of discussing that? Let’s do something that we can do, and NAIA is prepared to do it,” Dominguez said at the 72nd Inaugural Meeting Induction of the 2021 Management Association of the Philippines Board of Governors.

    Last December, Megawide-GMR Infrastructure, which submitted a P109-billion proposal for
    NAIA, filed a motion for reconsideration with the Manila International Airport Authority to reverse its decision revoking the consortium’s original proponent status due to failure to meet the financial requirements.

    “When NAIA came up, there was a private sector who offered to do it. So, we told them these are the rules now, we want to reduce our contingent liability. These are the rules, according to the law. And they looked at it and looked at it and wasted almost two and a half years and finally said, oh, because of COVID-19 we don’t want it anymore. Another group came in and said they want to do it. Unfortunately, the law requires you to have a certain amount of capital, and they don’t have it,” Dominguez said.

    “The only thing we have seen so far is press release that they have capital, but we haven’t seen it in actuality. So what is the private sector doing? They want to do (it) or they don’t want to do (it)?” he added.

    Dominguez cited as an example it took five years to do the Cavite-Laguna expressway, a public-private partnership (PPP) sector project.

    “It took five years. Why? They sued each other. Now who stopped that (the bidding)? The
    government? No. Who wasted two and a half years, the government? No, we said this is the deal,” Dominguez said.

    “Now you want us to bend over each time? We’re not gonna do it, at least this administration is not gonna do it,” he added.

    Dominguez also said in the same forum for this year, he is going to look at all the
    contingent liabilities of PPPs, and agencies such as the Social Security System (SSS),
    Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
    (PhilHealth).

    “They (agencies) have not been following the prescribed standards in accounting. SSS
    recognizes as income all their collection. They do not set aside a reserve for future liabilities, (and) no insurance company does that in the world. I saw that when I became chairman of SSS, (and I said) is this the way to do it? Then finally I said, maybe GSIS is doing it. (But) GSIS is not doing it (either),” Dominguez said.

    “You will be shocked sometime this year, when we publish the 2020 financial statements of
    these organizations. The public (will have) a good view of what our real liabilities are. Our
    decision-making is done on facts. And also, for PPP. We don’t have the final number for our
    liabilities on the PPP, they are pretty huge. At least when I leave office, I can tell my successor, this is the real picture of the economy,” he added. (A. Celis)