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Arroyo government determined to sell Meralco shares, IBC 13, PNCC, other assets this year

() - February 12, 2001 - 12:00am
Finance Secretary Alberto Romulo said government will push through with the sale of its stakes in power distributor Manila Electric Co., broadcasting networking IBC-13, tollway operator Philippine National Construction Corp., several properties of International School and Muslim-bank, Philippine Amanah Bank.

The previous administration tried several times last year to sell the assets but there were not takers.

Still, Romulo is confident that the renewed confidence in the Arroyo administration will attract investors this time around.

"These are very good properties that we are trying to privatize and I think the market will be receptive," Romulo said. The properties are estimated to be worth P10 billion.

The sale of these assets will help bring down the government‘s huge budget deficit which is projected at P145 billion this year.

In a related development, Romulo said the government is asking the legal opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the legitimacy of an executive order which extended the corporate lives of the Asset Privatization Trust (APT) and its attached agency. Committee on Privatization (COP) for government to be able to continue the privatization of state assets.

The APT’s mandate expired November last year but was replaced by the State Privatization Council (SPC) through Executive Order 323 signed by deposed President Joseph Estrada.

Under the EO, proceeds from the privatization program which will be remitted to the national coffers, will be broken down into two parts, 60 percent going to the special account of the agrarian reform fund and 40 percent to the general fund.

Government owned and controlled corporations excluding the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System are mandated to remit to the national coffers at least 50 percent of their net proceeds.

The EO also specifies that physical assets remaining at the end of the corporate life of APT will immediately be transferred to the Privatization and Management Office (PMO) under the Department of Finance for appropriate disposition.

The SPC will be chaired by the secretary of finance, with the secretaries of budget and management, trade and industry, and the National Economic and Development Authority as members, while the National Treasurer and the chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government will be non-voting members.

Romulo said government has asked the DOJ to render an opinion on whether the creation of the SPC through an EO would suffice, or whether this would need legislation.

He said the clarification is needed since government wants to ensure that the assets to be privatized won’t face legal hitches. Rocel Felix

ASSET PRIVATIZATION TRUST DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE EXECUTIVE ORDER FINANCE SECRETARY ALBERTO ROMULO GOOD GOVERNMENT GOVERNMENT GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM AND SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL AND MUSLIM MANILA ELECTRIC CO ROMULO
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