NOY'S ECONOMIC MANAGERS DISCUSS LOOMING FARE, TOLL RATE HIKES
MANILA, JANUARY 5, 2011 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - President Aquino’s economic managers are set to meet today to discuss ways of cushioning the impact of increases in toll rates and of the looming fare hikes.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Greg Domingo and Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus are expected to apprise Aquino of possible options the government might take to ease the burden of the rate increases on consumers and motorists.
But in an interview at the Philippine Navy headquarters, the President assured the public that his administration is definitely doing something about the matter, at the same time bearing in mind the country’s financial obligation to foreign investors who built the expressways.
“The instructions are very clear: We will mitigate as much as possible the increases in the rates for these tollways,” Aquino stressed.
“That will surely ruin our reputation in the international community,” Aquino said referring to likely repercussion of not raising the rates. “It’s like saying the PPP (public-private partnership) will not take off,” he added. “And if the PPP does not take off, there will be less funds for social concerns. These are the conflicting requirements that need resolution.”
He said he and his officials don’t need to be reminded of the repercussions of the issue by lawyer Ernesto Francisco who is contesting the toll rate hikes before the Supreme Court and who is also urging the president to suspend their implementation.
Some of the options being considered are gradual increase in toll rates and seeking Congress’s help in settling the government’s financial obligation to the Malaysian SLEX investor.
“The Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC), for instance, gets some proceeds from it and we were thinking of utilizing that to fund part of the returns,” he explained to Palace reporters, referring to the subsidy option. – With Aurea Calica
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