Thursday, March 18, 2010

Funding for TPLEX assured

IN case bank financing becomes a problem due to the slow right-of-way (ROW) acquisitions, the consortium led by DMCI Holdings and San Miguel Corp. (SMC) will be ready to draw more funds from its equity just to make sure it will be able to finish the 50-kilometer initial stretch of the $312.5-million Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) in less than three years.

“If financing is still not available, we will put the additional capital. That is also what San Miguel said. We need to keep to the spirit of this public-private partnership,” Jorge Consunji, DMCI president and COO, told reporters on Tuesday.

Already, Consunji said TPLEX proponent Private Infrastructure Development Corp., which is 70 percent owned by SMC and DMCI, has already made available P1.5 billion from its funds. The amount, he said, can be used by the consortium to run the construction operations for 12 to 18 months.

He said under the project terms of reference, Banco de Oro and other partner-banks will only release financing after the ROW for the entire 50-km stretch from La Paz, Tarlac, to Carmen, Pangasinan, has been acquired by the government.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the team of Presidential Management Staff chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. have so far secured only 30 km of ROW.

To be able to acquire the ROW for the properties to be affected along the 50-km stretch, Consunji said about P4 billion is needed.

The consortium is shouldering some of the advanced payments for the ROW. It is awaiting the P3-billion financing from the National Development Co. (NDC). It also has a bank credit line of P10 billion. Consunji said they are ready to finish the La Paz to Carmen section in two-and-a-half to three years, “depending on the delivery of the ROW.”

He said they are ready to begin construction in La Paz going to Carmen after the Holy Week. Construction already started in Carmen going south, so the road buildup will be simultaneous in both ends, and will meet somewhere in between.

“We can proceed without financing for up to 18 months,” he said.

TPLEX is the next major road project in the area after the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. With these two expressways connected, travel time from Balintawak to the foot of Baguio City in La Union will be cut to about three hours.

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