Tuesday, March 16, 2010

GMA scraps $100-million Clark airport deal with Kuwait firm

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga , Philippines  – President Arroyo has directed the scrapping of the Kuwaiti Al Mal Consortium in the list of possible contractors for a $100 million passenger terminal at the Diosdado Macapagal Internatiional Airport here amid controversies.

Reliable sources from Malacañang and the Clark International Airport Corp. said the President relayed her directive to former Malacañang public affairs secretary Edgardo Pamintuan during her visit to her hometown in Lubao on Saturday.

“Cut it (any negotiation with Al Mal),” an angry President was quoted to have said. Mrs. Arroyo was reported to have been angered by reports linking her to Al Mal’s interest in the terminal project. Al Mal is a subsidiary of the Kuwaiti firm M.A. Kharafi and Sons.

Pamintuan said in a text message to The Star that the President was supposed to meet about this with CIAC president Victor Jose Luciano, CIAC executive vice president Nestor Mangio, and CIAC executive vice president Alex Cauguiran at the Haribon aviation complex of the Philippine Air Force before flying to the Visayas yesterday morning.

“Let’s make it (President’s directive) after she has met with them,” he said.

Reached by phone, Mangio, who has been pushing for Al Mal as contractor for the project apparently retained hopes that the Kuwaiti firm, with its local partner Al Mal-Pride, would still get the project amid a seven-day deadline imposed on Friday, for it to agree to CIAC’s terms of agreement on the project.
“The President went to the Middle East last year to look into the capability of Al Mal to undertake the airport project. We were impressed by the airport project it built in Egpyt,” he said.

But The Star obtained from a CIAC source early yesterday a statement that was supposed to be released after a meeting of its board late in the afternoon to officially announce the termination of negotiations with Al Mal-Pride as the President had directed.
Terminate negotiations
“We are terminating the negotiations with the Al Mal-Pride consortium due to the non-acceptability of their proposed terms and conditions for a possible joint venture agreement with CIAC for the development of various components of DMIA complex,” the statement said.
The statement said that “out of respect for the other party and until they have officially received our written communication, we will have to refrain from discussing those grounds for the rejection of their proposal.”
But it also said “we categorically deny any attempt to railroad the award of the project to Al Mal-Pride consortium. Records will bear out that Al Mal’s unsolicited proposal to develop the DMIA was first submitted all the way back to April 2008.”

“CIAC had been very careful and judicious in negotiating the terms of our agreement. But while we needed to develop DMIA through the entry of much needed foreign investments, we also needed to protect public interest and make sure we will not violate the law. It was a difficult balancing act,” the statement further said.
CIAC executive vice president Cauguiran said that Al Mal had been pushing for onerous provisions in its version of TOR, including the prohibition of any operation of a premiere airport within a 150-kilometer radius of the DMIA.

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