Construction of the new toll road that aims to decongest Metro Manila traffic by connecting North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway is facing further delays because of the opposition by the Finance Department.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson told reporters the Swiss Challenge for the NLEx-SLEx Connector road could not proceed, until an issue raised by the Finance Department was settled.
“Before we go to the Swiss Challenge, it has to be approved by Neda [National Economic and Development Authority]. [But] the DoF is questioning the rate of return because the previous approvals of the Neda board itself was that the returns to the project proponent would be based on weighted average cost of capital,” Singson said.
“DoF is saying computation should be based on PIRR or project internal rate of return. So we did another calculation using PIRR. So that has to go back to Neda. Then after that, we go to Swiss Challenge,” he said.
Manila North Tollways Corp., the proponent of NLEx-SLEx Connector Road, earlier said the Swiss Challenge for the project might start this month, ahead of the election ban.
“We have to do the Swiss Challenge early enough, so when you award, it is not within the election ban. The election ban starts on March 25 or 26,” Singson said.
The revised project cost of the eight-kilometer, six-lane elevated expressway linking the end of the Skyway in Buendia to Balintawak was P16.5 billion. The right-of-way acquisition cost, meanwhile, is estimated at over P5 billion.
The new project estimate is lower than the original cost of P22 billion, after the NLEx-SLEx Connector Road was reduced to eight kilometers from 13.5 kilometers.
Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp., which is separately constructing the P26.7-billion Skyway Stage 3 Project, will construct the five-kilometer common alignment from Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila to Buendia in Makati City of the NLEx-SLEx project.
The Neda board earlier approved the NLEx-SLEx Connector Project under the unsolicited mode, subject to a Swiss Challenge.
The government decided to subject the project to a Swiss challenge after the Justice Department issued a legal opinion, saying the Neda board’s decision to implement the project as a joint venture was “without factual basis or jurisdiction.”
The joint-venture route aimed to do away with the Swiss challenge, which was required of the project when it was still being pursued as an unsolicited venture.
MNTC earlier reported a net income of P1.45 billion in the first six months of the year, up 8 percent from P1.34 billion on year.
Net income in the second quarter amounted to P770.35 million, up 13.7 percent from P677.39 million last year.
Revenues in the first six months reached P4.05 billion, up 7 percent from P3.77 billion last year. Revenues in the second quarter amounted to P2.08 billion, up from P1.94 billion a year ago.