03 February 2015

MNTC keeps SCTEX concession contract

Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) subsidiary Manila North Tollway Corp. (MNTC) has finally won the concession of State-owned Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

This developed as the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) did not receive yesterday any proposal matching MNTC’s P3.5-billion upfront cash bid for the rights, interest and obligations in the operation, maintenance and management of the SCTEX until 2043.

BCDA President Arnel Casanova said neither San Miguel Corp. nor the unidentified firm represented by the law firm of Aguirre, Abaño, Pamfilo, Paras, Pineda, and Agustin submitted proposals to match MNTC’s bid during yesterday’s deadline.

“This just proves that the latest improved offer of MNTC is the best offer in the market,” Casanova said.

As such, the SCTEX concession will be awarded to MNTC following the conclusion of the price challenge. Sought for comment, MNTC president Rodrigo Franco said they are ready to takeover the SCTEX anytime.

“We are happy that the process has finally concluded. We are ready to takeover anytime [since] our operational readiness is already there,” he said, stressing out that MNTC sister company Tollways Management Corp. (TMC) has been operating SCTEX since its opening in April 2008. TMC also operates the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) on MNTC’s behalf.

For the government’s part, Casanova said the SCTEX Price Challenge Selection Committee will sit down with the BCDA Board in a meeting on February 4 to present the result of the price challenge.

“We still have to undergo the process and get the Board’s approval before we finalize the contract and award it to MNTC,” Casanova explained.

Asked if the awarding of the SCTEX concession to MNTC could still face hurdles, Casanova said “we do not see any reason for that,” adding that Malacañang has already approved the SCTEX concession agreement on the condition of a price challenge.

“We have observed all the transparency required for this deal and worked hard to preserve the integrity of the process. We are happy to move on and close this deal, proceed to working for the improvement of the service in SCTEX, and serve the public interest,” he added.

Casanova, however, did not disclose the definite timetable for the SCTEX concession awarding. Franco said the MNTC expects the issuance of the notice of award next week, shortly after the BCDA Board meeting.

To recall, the BCDA and MNTC have signed in 2011 a business and operating agreement (BOA) for SCTEX but the Office of the President has postponed the approval of the BOA and instead directed that the MNTC offer be subject to a price challenge in the interest of transparency and fair competition.

MNTC’s latest improved offer made in February 2012 include the payment of P3.5- billion upfront cash, a 50-50 sharing of gross revenues with the government, assumption of the operation and maintenance costs of running the SCTEX and assumption of cost for the NLEX-SCTEX toll collection integration.

The 94-kilometer SCTEX connects the province of Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac to the NLEX, which in turn links Central Luzon to the National Capital Region and Metro Manila. The world-class toll road has 34 bridges, eight interchanges and a four-lane divided toll road to connect the Subic Bay Freeport and Special Economic Zone in Zambales, the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga, and the Central Techno Park in Tarlac.

The SCTEX was built through a 59 billion yen (P28-billion) loan provided by the Japanese government, through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). The loan used to finance the construction of SCTEx will mature in 2041. Since it was opened to the motoring public in 2008, the SCTEX recorded an average daily traffic of 9,302 vehicles, which rose to 30,855 vehicles in 2014. (Kris Bayos, Manila Bulletin)