DOF, DOTr weigh MPIC offer to take over MRT-3

By Mary Grace Padin

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) is in discussions with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to come up with a decision on the proposal of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) to acquire the government’s stake in the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3).

“We are discussing our common position with the DOTr. This is really under them,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said when asked about MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan’s offer on the MRT 3.

According to Dominguez, the finance department is concerned about the decision of the DOTr on the matter as it could have an impact on the financial position of the government.

Currently, government financial institutions Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines hold a combined 80 percent share in the Metro Rail Transit Corp., the private owner of the train system.

“We are only involved because we own shares and they owe us money through the bonds. Whatever the DOTr decides to do operationally will have effects on our financial position, so we are discussing with DOTr what they really want,” Dominguez said.

Earlier, MPIC chairman Pangilinan said the company has recently submitted a new proposal to rehabilitate and improve the MRT3, in coordination with the Ayala Corp. and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte Ltd.

Under the new proposal, the company would invest P12 billion to rehabilitate the train system, without any increase in fares for at least two years.

Pangilinan also said the firm is open to buy out the stake of the government and other shareholders of the MRT-3 system.

“We said in principle we’re prepared to do that,” he said.

DBP president and chief executive officer Cecilia Borromeo had said the state-run bank is open to unloading its economic interests in the MRT-3, but not without the approval of the DOF.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade also said during a Senate on finance committee hearing yesterday the DOTr is currently reviewing the proposal.

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