DOF gives NLEX-SLEX Connector Road green light
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) approved the construction of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX)-South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Connector Road, dismissing news reports that the deal is again delayed.
"No, no, no. They can do it," Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III replied when asked if the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) cannot push through with the construction without forming a special purposes company (SPC).
Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corporation (MPTDC), an MPIC unit, secured the P23.2-billion deal to build, operate, and maintain the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road last July, after no comparative proposals were submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
MPTDC president and CEO Rodrigo Franco was quoted in news reports as saying that the DPWH is not yet issuing the award notice to MPTDC due to an opinion issued by the DOF under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III, requiring the deal to be implemented under SPC.
"It's just more convenient for us, so that if anything goes wrong, it's very easy to identify the assets," Dominguez told reporters on the sidelines of a Senate hearing in Pasay City on Wednesday, August 31.
"It's not ex cathedra," he added, meaning with the full authority of office.
It was back in 2010 when the MPTDC first submitted an unsolicited proposal for the connector road.
On January 21, 2014, it signed a joint venture agreement with state-run Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) – the holder of the NLEX franchise – to build that road.
But months later, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in an opinion on the joint venture proposal that the approval of the agreement between MPTDC and PNCC, given by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, was "without factual basis or justification."
The MPTDC proposal was again subjected to NEDA review.
In February 2015, the NEDA Board ruled that MPIC's connector road offer should be bid out via Swiss challenge.
Swiss challenge is the course the government takes when dealing with unsolicited proposals, which requires an invitation to make competing offers while giving the original proponent the right to match them.
The toll road would link C-3 in Caloocan City to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) campus in Sta Mesa, Manila.
According to the Public-Private Partnership Center, it would run above the lines of the Philippine National Railways.
Due to changes in the mode of implementation, Franco said implementation of the road deal will be scheduled from November 2016 to February 2022. – Rappler.com
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