By Marianne V. Go (The Philippine Star) Updated October 27, 2011 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) is prepared to restructure its proposal for the Food Terminal, Inc. (FTI) to accommodate the government’s requirements and terms of reference (TOR), Solomon Hermosura, chief legal counsel of ALI, said yesterday.
In an interview with The STAR following the Senate committee on agriculture and food hearing on the FTI sale, Hermosura said “we are ready to craft a proposal that would meet the requirements and terms of reference of the government.”
During the hearing chaired by Sen. Francisco Pangilinan, it was confirmed that ALI is now in negotiations with the Privatization and Management Office of the Department of Finance.
Karen Singson, chief privatization officer of the PMO-DOF, said they are in talks with one firm that has offered them the “best package” and “is over and beyond what was offered in the previous failed bidding.”
She pointed out that the current negotiation is offering the government “more than what we would achieve in a public bidding.”
Other real estate property developers –Filinvest, Megaworld and Century Properties – have called for a more transparent open bidding, pointing out that even if the PMO-DOF agrees to a Swiss challenge bidding—the original proponent would already have a huge advantage.
Hermosura told the STAR: “We have expected all along a Swiss challenge…which is also a public bidding.”
The ALI executive noted that “there have been instances where a third party wins the Swiss challenge.”
During the Senate hearing, it was also revealed that the PMO-DOF has not been in touch with the Department of Agriculture (DA) as well as the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) with regards to the actual available FTI property for disposition.
Based on the PMO-DOF’s figures, a total of 103 hectares is available.
However, it was learned that a 24-hectare area has been carved out into a special economic zone where 10 firms have long-term leases.
Likewise, the DA wants to carve out a separate 34-hectare area to put up a trading center complex.
Singson said what she knows is that the DA only needed 16 hectares.
The FTI property is technically owned by the National Food Authority, which is controlled by the DA.
Proceeds of the planned privatization are to be shared by the FTI and the National Government, with most of the proceeds intended to be plowed back into funding programs to achieve the government’s food security goal.