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PPA says options open for Sasa port

THE GOVERNMENT is still open to “any privatization” option for the Sasa Port redevelopment after the project is withdrawn from the list of public-private partnership (PPP) projects approved by the previous administration’s National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board.

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said late last year that it is looking to pull out the project from the PPP program to “possibly fund it internally” at a greatly reduced cost.

“First, we have to close the project. The DoTr (Department of Transportation) Secretary will have to write to NEDA to put closure to this … whatever will be the instruction of NEDA, then we will abide,” PPA Commercial Services Department Manager Emma L. Susara said in an interview.

PPA said as soon as it gets the notice from NEDA, it will “review, validate and update” the feasibility study completed by the agency in 2012 which differs in “parameter, cost, concession fee, tariff increase and viability funding” from the P18.99 billion Davao Sasa Port modernization project which was approved by the previous government and submitted by the then Department of Transportation and Communications.

“We’re open to privatization options. There might be some portions that PPA will undertake immediately because it needs to be done but [the project] could still be up for any privatization options,” Ms. Susara said.

PPA General Manager Jay Daniel R. Santiago earlier said the agency has received approval from the PPA Board to study various plans to redevelop Sasa port with a budget of about P4.7 to about P4.9 billion.

The DoTr said in October that it may stop the bidding to modernize and expand Davao’s Sasa Port — one of the PPP deals left unresolved by the previous government — due to its “unjustified” cost, replacing it with a scaled-down proposal.

The scaled-down cost means the project no longer requires NEDA Investment Coordination Committee approval, where the threshold is P5 billion. Projects under P5 billion can be approved by their respective implementing agencies.

Despite issues earlier raised against the P19-billion Davao Sasa project, the redevelopment proposal attracted five potential bidders: San Miguel Holdings Corp. — APM Terminals Management (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. Consortium; Asian Terminals, Inc. — DP World FZE Consortium; Portek International Pte. Ltd. — National Marine Corp. Consortium; Bollore Africa Logistics and International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

The Regional Development Council has identified the Sasa Port project as one of the priority infrastructure projects in Mindanao that needs to be implemented to drive growth in the industry and the services sectors.

The Sasa port project, along with the Davao International Airport, are two main gateways of the region that are due for major upgrades and are expected to significantly improve the region’s physical connectivity and boost its economic development.

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