Gov't to upgrade NAIA if Megawide, private bidders don't shape up – DOF

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 12) — The government will take on the repair and operations of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport if private firms looking to take over the project are unable to keep up with what the state requires for the ₱109-billion project.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government is not at fault for years of delay of the NAIA Rehabilitation Project, pinning the blame instead on private proponents who appear unprepared to take on upgrades for the country's biggest but dilapidated gateway.

TIMELINE: The NAIA rehabilitation project

The Cabinet official alluded to the NAIA Consortium — composed of seven of the country's biggest conglomerates — who handled the project for nearly three years only to back out earlier this year. He then refuted claims made by the Megawide-GMR group, saying it has not proven its financial capacity.

In November, Dominguez and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua returned the plan of Megawide-GMR to the Department of Transporation as they found Megawide's ₱18 billion equity as of end-2019 lacking. According to them, the firms need at least ₱32.6 billion as show money to support the NAIA plan.

Megawide officials argued during the Senate hearing that there was a difference in interpreting the 30% equity requirement, and that they could meet the required amount with a corresponding investment from its Indian partner, GMR Infrastructure.

Dominguez is not convinced. "The only thing we have seen so far is the press releases that they have capital, but we haven't seen it in actuality. What is the private sector doing — they want to do (it) or they don't want to do it?"

"Make up your mind because if not, NAIA will do it itself," President Rodrigo Duterte's top economic man said during the virtual meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines. "It may not be as good as the plans of the private sector, but their plans cannot be implemented anyway so what's the point of discussing that? Let's do something that we can do. NAIA is prepared to do it," he added.

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​Megawide has submitted a formal appeal to bring back its original proponent status for the project after only five months of negotiations with the government. If reinstated, the company will take on the rehabilitation and operations of NAIA terminals 1-3, with the first phase involving the overhaul of terminal 1 with a design inspired by the Banaue Rice Terraces.

San Miguel Corporation and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, Inc. have submitted their own proposals to operate and maintain NAIA. Megawide previously upgraded the Mactan Cebu International Airport and the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.