BIZ BUZZ: Wanted: Better Naia deal
As proposed terms stand today, whoever will bag the contract to maintain and upgrade the ultra-congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) will get only 15 years to recover their massive investment in the daunting project to raise the service and even aesthetic standards of the country’s primary gateway.
For the members of the ”mega consortium” that had sent their unsolicited offer to rehabilitate the airport, the 15 years as proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is too short a contract period. Deemed more viable is a longer 25-year contract, which they said should give the private sector enough time and space to deliver what they will be required to do under the contract to be bid out “soon” by the Marcos government
According to Manila International Airport Consortium (MIAC), which is comprised of six of the country’s largest conglomerates, they were ready to invest $3.8 billion or roughly P210 billion in the “transformation” of Naia, more than double the P100 billion that they quoted as their initial project cost when they announced their plan to invest in the major undertaking.
About $1 billion is expected to be spent in the first five years while the remaining $2.8 billion will be used over the rest of the proposed 25-year concession, for such projects as facility upgrades, implementation of new operating processes, installation of more comfortable and modern facilities and provision of better connectivity between terminals.
MIAC, which includes the Ayala, Lucio Tan, Andrew Tan, Gotianun, Gokongwei and Aboitiz groups, plus the US-based fund Global Infrastructure Partners, seeks to double the passenger capacity of the gateway to 62.5 million a year by 2028 from the current 31 million.
The question now is, will the DOTr be willing to amend its proposal submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority and lengthen the proposed contract period by 10 years? Or will it stick to the 15-year timetable that is supposedly being pushed by the rival groups with their own airport projects? Abangan!
Paying with Bitcoin
Filipinos can now pay using Bitcoin—a virtual currency—in over 400 small businesses, including convenience stores, cafes and restaurants.
These are backed by the technology of Pouch.ph, a digital payment solution provider that converts Bitcoin into peso when a customer is paying a merchant. Such is a welcome development in a country that has been accelerating digitalization efforts, as evidenced by the popularity of e-wallet brands.
However, the number of small business offering the Bitcoin payment platform is still considered, well, small, as the country is the home of about a million micro, small and medium enterprises.
Nevertheless, Pouch.ph CEO Ethan Rose said this initiative could hopefully help business tap more clients, especially those who are not credit card holders.
“One of the most significant challenges for the growth of small businesses is the availability of payment methods, with credit cards charging fees up to 3 percent. With the growing number of internet and smartphone users in the Philippines, Bitcoin as a payment method will allow those who do not have credit cards or even local fiat currency to make online or in-store purchases,” he said.
—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad
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