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Freeman Cebu Business

Plan to void SRP sales might turn off investors

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it's important to maintain Cebu's attractiveness as a prime investment destination in the country stressing that the move to void sales at the SRP might send wrong signals to investors.

Melanie Ng made this statement yesterday when asked to comment on the plan of newly elected Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to rescind the sale of the South Road Properties (SRP) lots to three giant developers, saying the transactions which were made last year were dubious and corrupt.

"We would like to find out some more what prompted him to make that announcement," Ng said in an interview.

"We would also like to stress that the rule of law should also prevail. I think that particular one (the transaction) was done through a bidding process. If that previous bidding was done in compliance with the bidding rules, then the rule of law should prevail," Ng said.

Otherwise, Ng pointed out that investors "might feel threatened or they might feel that Cebu is not investor friendly."

Earlier, Osmeña said he would oppose the sale of SRP lots to Ayala, SM and Filinvest made last year.

Osmeña said there was corruption in the transactions because of monopoly, discretion and lack of transparency.

He also planned to ask the Commission on Elections to do a referendum to ask the people of Cebu City whether to push through with the lot sale or not.

Last year, SM Prime and Ayala Land affiliate Cebu Holdings Inc. posted a P10-billion winning bid to develop a 26-hectare lot at the SRP.

While Filinvest Land also won the bidding to develop an another 19.2-hectare SRP lot for P6.76 billion.

The three giant developers already paid P8.35 billion to the city government as down payment of the transaction.

In an email response to The FREEMAN earlier, Alexander Pomento, vice president for investor relations of SM Prime, said: "We cannot comment on the matter until we see the formal documents pertaining to the matter raised by Mayor Tommy."

Cebu Holdings also declined to comment yet on the issue.

Ng also said the chamber is also open to discuss with Osmeña such issue which is seen to affect the business sector. (FREEMAN)

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