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Megawide-GMR appeals original proponent status for NAIA rehab

Megawide Construction Corp. and its partner, Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure Ltd., on Monday appealed for the revocation of their original proponent status (OPS) on the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a letter dated December 21, 2020, the consortium made its case on why its OPS should be reconsidered and reinstated by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) Board, again clarifying that the group has the financial capacity to proceed with the project.

The letter was signed by Megawide managing director for transport Manuel Louie Ferrer and addressed to MIAA. A copy was also furnished to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.

The MIAA, in a board meeting on December 4, decided to revoke the OPS of the Megawide-GMR Group for the P109-billion project, after the government said the private proponent failed to meet the deadlines given. Megawide said, however, that there were no deadlines set.

The revocation of the OPS was later ratified by the MIAA in a subsequent meeting on December 15, albeit with two caveats -- MIAA will continue with its ongoing NAIA rehabilitation and reconstruction program; and that Megawide retains its procedural rights to the project.

Among issues raised by the Investment Coordination Committee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-ICC) are the financial capacity of the group to push through with the project, as well as the supposed failure to meet deadlines.

In terms of the financial capacity, Megawide said it has already submitted the necessary documents to prove that it can undertake the project together with GMR, with 70% of the project from debt and the remaining 30% from equity.

There were also interpretation issues between the government and the Megawide group, as the government said Megawide must first prove that they can undertake the project's total cost,  but the group interpreted the build-operate-transfer (BOT) law as saying that the group only needs to prove that they have the financial capacity to finance the project by phases.

"In view of the foregoing, Megawide GMR Consortium is hereby respectfully requesting the reconsideration of the MIAA Board resolution revoking Megawide GMR Consortium's OPS for the NAIA Project, and pray for the reinstatement of such OPS," it said in its letter on Monday.

The Megawide consortium was granted the OPS for the NAIA rehabilitation in July, after talks with the NAIA Consortium -- made up of several of the country's largest conglomerates -- collapsed.

The original $3-billion unsolicited proposal of the Megawide consortium was submitted in March 2018, but was set aside in favor of the NAIA Consortium whose proposal was received by the government first.

Ferrer in November said the company is optimistic that the Swiss Challenge for the project could be completed by March 2021 —KBK, GMA News