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CoA to review ALI deal in Negros Occidental

Posted on April 08, 2012 09:40:35 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

BACOLOD CITY -- The Commission on Audit (CoA) has assigned a technical team to evaluate the P3.5-billion property deal between the Negros Occidental provincial government and the Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI).

“[We] are tasked to look into the price of the property and appraise the reasonability of the sale,” state auditor Encarnacion Esmino told reporters when the team arrived late in March, referring to the move of the provincial government to award the sale and lease of a 7.7-hectare property to Ayala Land.

The CoA spokesperson Gilbert Kintanar said in an interview the creation of a technical team is part of the process done by the commission for government transactions involving a large amount.

“This is to ensure that the final contract in the sale of the property is in favor of the government,” he said.

He said the CoA has the mandate to re-appraise to ensure that the transaction is favorable to the government.

“Once we receive the report from the Technical Services Office, we will calendar it for the next CP (commission proper) meeting,” he said. The next meeting is set for April 13.

SM Prime Holdings, Inc., which lost to Ayala Land during the bidding, continues to question the transaction.

Patrick Bayhon, external counsel to SM Prime, claimed in a statement that the COA had not approved a “floor price” for the property that the provincial government used as a basis to declare the re-bidding a failure and eventually award the property to Ayala Land.

The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) conducted a bidding in June 2011 participated only by Ayala Land, prompting the BAC to declare a failure of bidding.

The second bidding was held on July 7, 2011 participated by both Ayala Land and SM Prime, with the former emerging as the winner via a negotiated deal. -- Nanette L. Guadalquiver

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