DOF starts talks with institutions for MRT takeover

Posted at 01/16/13 4:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Finance department on Wednesday said it has already started talks with two government financial institutions (GFIs) for the Aquino administration's planned buyout of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).

"We're discussing right now with the GFIs on the structure, and we have yet decided what's the final structure. But we already have our options. We will be evaluating what’s the feasible structure for us, also the constraint or any possible constraints," Finance Undersecretary Rosalia B. de Leon said.

This comes after Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya on Tuesday said an Executive Order will soon be issued detailing the government's planned takeover of the MRT.

But de Leon declined to give any timetable for the MRT takeover plan, citing issues that have yet to be addressed.

However, de Leon stressed the government need not raise fresh funds for the $1-billion takeover plan, as it is currently awash with cash.

She earlier said the government will be purchasing the 80% economic interest held by the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines, and the remaining 20% held by bondholders.

The planned MRT takeover will allow the government to easily bid out contracts for the maintenance and operations of the train system under the Aquino administration's public-private partnership program.

The 17-kilometer MRT runs along EDSA from North Avenue in Quezon City to Taft Avenue in Manila.