Home » Ports/Terminals » PCCI seeks restudy of North Harbor privatization

A delay in the North Harbor privatization once again looms after the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) declared it wants to rethink the port’s bidding process to ensure public interest is protected.

Two months ago, PCCI and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) settled their differences on the privatization issue. Under the agreement, PCCI will allow PPA to bid out the North Harbor to a single operator provided PPA privatizes only one of two cargo-handling terminals and would operate the remaining terminal that will compete with the privatized port.

Prior to the agreement PCCI, whose members are the largest port users in the country, and the National Economic and Development Authority, have pushed for the multi-operator scheme to better foster competition.

PCCI president Samie Lim, in an interview before the group’s general membership meeting late last week, said the group will urge PPA to defer the privatization while the restudy is in progress.

“We believe in market forces. We want to bring the quality and cost of service in the country competitive with other Southeast Asian countries. Since it involves public sector money, awarding the contract to a single operator should have to be studied further,”Lim explained.

He said port users will not object to awarding the 25-year concession agreement to a single operator if this was under the build-operate-transfer scheme as public sector spending would be limited.

PCCI chairman Donald Dee said that since the current capacity of the North Harbor is enough to accommodate anticipated traffic in the next few years, investments should be limited to what is needed in the short term.

With the PPA proposal requiring huge investments, there should be at least two operators to guarantee that rates are dictated by market forces, he added. “However, if PPA wishes to push through with its plan to award the contract to a single operator, then we want the bidding process to be as transparent as possible.”

The PCCI is finalizing its restudy of the PPA proposal with the University of Asia and the Pacific and will reveal results in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the PPA will announce today the eligible bidders for the North Harbor.

Based on the terms of reference of the North Harbor, to be eligible to bid a company should have at least P500 million in paid-up capital and five year’s experience in cargo handling.

In case of joint ventures, aside from the minimum paid-up capital and the citizenship requirement, the JV should have at least handled one million metric tons of cargo in the last three years prior to the bidding.

Each bidder should also have a bid security either in cash or check worth P68.18 million, a bank guarantee worth P102.28 million, or a surety bond worth P170.47 million.

Slugging it out for the port’s container terminal, general cargo terminal and the passenger terminal complex to be considered as one operational area are Pier 8 Arrastre and Stevedoring, Inc., Magsaysay-owned National Marine Corp., Romero-led Harbour Centre Port Terminals, Inc., DPWorld Philippine subsidiary Asian Terminals, Inc., Prudential Customs Brokerage Services, the Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investment Corp.

Actual bidding is on October 17.

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