SSS TO BUILD P8-BILLION COMPLEX ALONG EDSA

MANILA,  February 23, 2004 (STAR) By Ted P. Torres - The Social Security System (SSS) is set to start negotiations with a consortium that is proposing to build an P8-billion complex in a four-hectare property fronting the GMA Network headquarters along EDSA.

Europe-based EC Harris leads a consortium of foreign and local companies that submitted an unsolicited proposal to develop and operate what is tentatively called "Corporate Center" under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) arrangement.

The unsolicited proposal was forwarded to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) sometime between the last quarter of 2002 and early 2003.

According to NEDA assistant director general Rolando G. Tungpalan, the proposal has been approved by the inter-agency coordinating committee (ICC).

"They can now proceed to negotiate the contract with the consortium members," Tungpalan said. "However, it must face the Swiss challenge."

Government policy dictates that unsolicited proposals must be opened to the public for any interested "counter offer" for transparency. After a certain period wherein the proposal had been published in national dailies and without takers, it would return to the NEDA board for final scrutiny and approval (or disapproval).

In late 2002, the SSS held exploratory talks with the EC Harris-led group to enter into a BOT deal that would develop a four-hectare property at the corner of East Ave. and the EDSA highway in Quezon City.

SSS president and chief executive officer Corazon de la Paz said the pension fund will not shell out any money, and that the property will serve as its equity contribution to the consortium.

De la Paz said the SSS will relocate its main office from East Ave. to the so-called Corporate Center.

"It may likely be a 25-year BOT," dela Paz said, adding that original plans called for "a twin tower structure for mixed purposes including residential, commercial, shopping, and parking."

The 38-year old, 12-story structure the SSS occupies would be transformed into the long-delayed SSS hospital for its members.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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