BBM urged to resume rehabilitation of NAIA

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Infrastructure-oriented think tank Infrawatch PH has called on President Marcos to immediately restart the rehabilitation of the country’s main international gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a statement, Infrawatch urged Marcos to make NAIA part of his priority infrastructure projects in his first 100 days in office.

“There is no quibbling around it: one of the original sins of the previous administration has been the cancelation of the NAIA rehabilitation PPP. What was initially touted as a flagship project with the private sector has been reduced to a publicly-funded small-scale endeavor in the end,” Infrawatch convenor Terry Ridon said.

“The new government should undo this blunder and restart rehabilitation of the country’s main international gateway,” he said.

Under the Duterte administration, the government ended talks with the powerhouse NAIA consortium, which proposed a P102-billion plan to rehabilitate and expand the gateway.

The Manila International Airport Authority in 2020 also revoked the original proponent status granted to Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India for their P109-billion offer to upgrade and rehabilitate NAIA.

Following these failed negotiations with two groups and in spite of existing unsolicited proposals from the private sector, the government decided to undertake its own improvements and rehabilitation efforts for the airport.

“The previous government had two chances to rehabilitate NAIA: first with the MVP consortium and second with Megawide Corp. Mr. Duterte’s government blew both chances for very flimsy reasons. A new government with a fresh mandate should not allow this to happen again,” Ridon said.

With the current limited fiscal space due to heavy borrowings, Ridon said infrastructure agencies should focus on how to work with the private sector for its new projects.

“New bridges and roads can wait until our debt burden eases in the months to come. But hungry marginalized Filipinos cannot be left by their lonesome. Government should keep spending on them while allowing the private sector to share in the burden of infrastructure building,” he said.

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