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PRA now on stream to profitability

[ Manila Bulletin Online ] July 25, 2008

The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) is now on stream to earn "at least P50 billion in the next five years," Andrea D. Domingo, PRA general manager and CEO told media at a briefing in the Authority’s Makati office.

With a little bit of luck, that figure could go to as much as P65 billion, she added.

After assumption of office in the beginning of 2007 that the Authority has for the first time been in the red, the former Public Estates Authority is now enjoying a banner year. The turnaround began shortly after Domingo assumed her post. A former congresswoman, Domingo’s last government post before assuming the PRA helm was as Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation.

Of its net earnings, the PRA remits 50 percent to the national government’s treasury, and pays 35 percent as income taxes, while retaining 15 percent for operations.

Its reclamation project along practically the entire stretch of Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City – where taipan Henry Sy’s Mall of Asia is situated – is not the only big ticket project of the PRA. Unsolicited proposals from various interested foreign and local investors for several projects in the site have been received.

Domingo said the proposed Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City – an entertainment complex complete with hotels, resorts, casinos and office buildings – will be an even bigger project than the Mall of Asia complex.

Down south, the Authority has a 400 hectare reclamation project in Lapu Lapu and another 220 hectares in Mandaue, both in the province of Cebu, according to Domingo. There is also a 100 hectares project in Coron, Palawan and a 80 hecatres project in Alaminos.

With the bulk of the foundation works at the Manila Bay site, the priority project of the PRA within Metro Manila today is the one in the Baseco area in Tondo, Manila. Domingo said they expect to complete a contract with yet another joint venture partner in the transfer of the oil depots of the Big Three – Petron, Chevron and Shell, as well as smaller players like Seaoil and Flying V.

"We are meeting the possible partner this week," Domingo told the newsmen.

With the Supreme Court ruling that the country’s big oil companies must move out of Pandacan by 2013, the PRA is moving forward with its project to create an island near the Baseco compound in Tondo to host the oil firms.

The proposed site will be ideal for the oil firms because it will be more secure, away from any residential areas. The self-contained site will also be found in deeper waters where the Pasig River empties into Manila Bay.

Oil tankers will no longer have to transfer their supply by barge, further lowering their operating cost, Domingo said.

The PRA chief said she sees no problems in dealing with the local government of the City of Manila, led by Mayor Alfredo Lim. If, as expected, the transfer pushes through, they will then discuss the transfer with Lim and the city government. No negotiations have taken place thus far since the agreement is still to reach a crucial stage.

But Domingo added that she sees "no problem" in dealing with the local government of Manila.

The PRA incurred a net loss of P78 million in 2006.

Last year, however, the PRA was able to pay P600 million in taxes, while also earning P1 billion. By last year, the PRA had become the biggest taxpayer among all government-owned and controlled corporations.

Domingo was appointed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as PRA head in January of 2007. Refusing to take credit for the turnaround, Domingo said it was actually the result of "hard work with a very good team."

She does however admit to being proud of the PRA’s being completely self-sufficient, without getting a single centavo from government coffers for its operations.

"Most of our projects are joint ventures," she said, "We are strictly self-liquidating."
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