Aquino got figures wrong on NorthRail, says mayor | Inquirer News

Aquino got figures wrong on NorthRail, says mayor

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The former chair of the defunct Subic-Clark Alliance Development Council (SCADC) on Friday corrected the figures cited by the Aquino administration in renegotiating the North Luzon Railway (NorthRail) project with China.

“May I just correct the figures often cited by media that the project cost ballooned from $503 million to $2 billion for the Caloocan to Malolos segment [which was Phase 1 of the original contract]. [The] actual total cost of Phase I, based on the amended contract, is from $503 million to $602 million, or an increase of $172 million,” said Edgardo Pamintuan, who is now mayor of Angeles City.

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Adjustments to inflation

He said the project which began in 2003 incurred additional obligations to the contractor after it was suspended for four years. These represent fiscal adjustments due to inflation and the impact of the 2008 global recession.

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As SCADC chair, Pamintuan also took over the management of the North Luzon Railways Corp., a subsidiary of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority in July 2008, five months after the Chinese contractor backed out after complaining that the government had failed to meet its demands for cost revisions, settlement of right-of-way problems and other construction-related issues.

In March this year, the government suspended its contract with China’s Sinomach Group of Companies, pending a review of the document. This led to the layoff of 70 NorthRail engineers and architects on May 1.

Danilo Consumido, an SCADC official, earlier reported that as of May 31, only 22.9 percent of NorthRail’s Phase 1 has been completed. He said the previous contractor had committed an 85.5 percent completion rate by March 27.

Pamintuan said he was glad that the government would continue the project, and even expand and improve it.

Long overdue

Transportation secretary Manuel Roxas II said Chinese officials were open to reconfiguring the project to extend it to Clark Freeport and Mabalacat, Pampanga, where the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport is located.

Businessman Rene Romero said the extension of the NorthRail to Pampanga was “long overdue.”

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“It’s a prerequisite for the DMIA and Clark to be considered as center of investments and hub,” he said.

City of San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, chair of the Central Luzon Regional Development Council, said the NorthRail is the “much-awaited missing link in the total development of Central Luzon.”

Victor Jose Luciano, president of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), said the rail component to Clark is government’s “proactive response to the strong clamor by airlines, the business community and the travel and tourism industries to provide connectivity between Clark and the  metropolis.”

BCDA chairman Felicito Payumo said a delay in the NorthRail project is “also a delay in the economic progress in Central Luzon.”

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TAGS: Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Central Luzon, Edgardo Pamintuan, Northrail Project, Transportation
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