RP to get €170-M loan from French government to build modular ports

MANILA is set to get its loan from the French government anytime this month to build dozens of modular ports all over the country, but Malacañang will have to decide where to place these facilities.

Philippine Ports Authority general manager Oscar Sevilla said they expect the €170-million government-to-government loan, or about P11.7 billion, to be released anytime this month or in August by French bank BNP Paribas.

Sevilla said the PPA needed quick approval and disbursement of the loan as it will build an initial six ports this year, and these should be done before the election ban on government infrastructure projects that will set in by November this year.

“We have submitted to Malacañang a list of areas where we intend to build the port. It is up to them [President Arroyo] where will they place them [modular port],” Sevilla said.

He said the PPA is looking at a total of at least 72 ports that will be rolled out in the next four years.

“We have submitted the list of 66 areas which need new ports and 44 ports for improvement,” he said.

The PPA said it is the only agency that will implement the project, since the Department of Transportation and Communications is the main proponent of the loan in behalf of the Philippine government.

The provinces that were earlier identified to set up modular ports include Isabela, Aurora, Pangasinan, Quezon, Romblon, Mindoro, Cavite, Palawan, Masbate, Albay, Eastern Samar, Surigao del Norte, Davao and Cotabato.

The idea of rolling out of modular ports was hatched during the visit of President Arroyo to Spain in 2007. The loan was supposed to come from the Spanish government, in the form of official development assistance, but Sevilla said the plan fizzled out.

Most of the structures of the modular ports are made of steel and the ramp can be adjustable. It can be built within one to two months depending on the size, with each facility costing between P50 million and P150 million.

The PPA said the port can last between 30 to 50 years.

Such technology is relatively newer in the industry as only a few countries are using it, which includes Russia, Sevilla said.

“It’s cheaper because I remember our ports from JBIC [Japan Bank for International Cooperation] cost about P150 million per port,” Sevilla earlier said.

BNP Paribas opened a representative office in Manila in 1975, and two years later it became a licensed offshore banking branch.

The BNP Paribas Manila offshore branch offers a broad range of products and services to its institutional clients, including interest-rate and foreign-currency hedging, bond underwriting, loan syndication, project finance, leverage and acquisition finance, and commodity derivatives.

Its Manila branch takes full advantage of BNP Paribas’s worldwide network, the company said on its web site. (Business World)

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