Gov’t mulls sale of stake in SCTEx

NLEX.COM.PH

THE DEPARTMENT of Finance (DoF) is looking to sell the government’s stake in the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), possibly to state pension funds, in order to boost revenues, Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto said.

“We’re looking at selling those shares. Maybe the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) can buy them. So that these pension funds can earn,” he told reporters in mixed English and Filipino.

He said the revenue generated from this sale will be “fairly significant.”

The Finance department is exploring ways to raise more revenue without imposing new taxes.

“I think it’s better off that we sell those shares to raise nontax revenues, and better that the pension funds buy (it) from us,” Mr. Recto said.

The DoF will also be meeting with both pension funds soon to discuss the proposal, he added.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) recently announced its plan to sell its 50% stake in SCTEx to the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) for at least P20 billion.

“Assuming BCDA agrees to sell it, we prefer it be offered to the pension funds first,” Finance Undersecretary Catherine L. Fong said in a Viber message.

“Because if they can afford to buy and hold it, they will reap the dividends and the value for the benefit of the pensioners. They may choose to flip it later on,” she added.

China Bank Capital Corp. Managing Director Juan Paolo E. Colet said that the proposed sale can be conducted through a competitive bidding process.

“If the sole objective is to maximize the upfront revenue of the government, then a competitive bidding for the stake may yield the best results,” he said in a Viber message.

“However, a sale to the SSS and GSIS appears to be geared towards both fundraising as well as enabling the state pension funds to benefit from the reliable cash flows of SCTEx. In other words, under the (DoF) proposal, the government gets a fair amount of cash while the pension funds get an important revenue-generating asset,” he added.

Mr. Recto has said that the Finance department is also seeking to dispose of its other assets.

Last year, the department announced its plan to dispose of its 3.46% stake in NLEX Corp.

NLEX Corp. is part of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., the tollway unit of MPIC.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson