Government plan to sell FTI should start with a public bidding and not negotiated sale-kiko
By Jason de Asis
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, January 18, 2011-“The process must start with public bidding and avoid a negotiated sale,” Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who is the Senate Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food said in his reaction to the government’s plan to sell the Food Terminal Inc. must be above board.
“Public bidding is foremost to be conducted to steer clear of legal disputes and controversies such as the case of PIATCO Terminal 3, or ZTE-NBN deal. On the other hand, we have the sale of MWSS or Camp John Hay from where we can pick out good lessons in handling the sale of government assets. For as long as we play by the rules, privatization has proved to be successful. If done correctly, privatization serves the national interest,” kiko said.
He added that the FTI would be better off getting rid of the complex which has distracted it from its job of providing farmers’ access to markets, choosing to focus of late on being a leaser of an industrial estate.
“The 120 hectare agro-industrial estate in Taguig was originally meant to be a consolidation center for agricultural products,” he said adding that it housed a slaughterhouse, chicken dressing plant and a multi-purpose warehouse for dry storage, food-processing facilities for grading, handling and packaging for foreign market in the 1970s.
Let’s look at the objectives of selling the property. If it is for the benefit of the agricultural sector then it should be used to strengthen the capability of FTI in its role of providing access to markets. Maybe the government has finally realized that leasing an industrial zone to locators, which is what FTI has evolved into, is not its primary objective. Therefore, the funds should be spent for the retooling of FTI to meet its goal. Market access is the key to increase the farmers’ income.
Kiko said that the proceeds of the planned sale must go to the country’s beleaguered agricultural sector.
In 2011, the proceeds of the sale must be plowed back to the agricultural sector whose budget was cut. It should be used to increase public investments in the agriculture sector such as irrigation, farm to market roads and the construction of post harvest facilities.
“If we are to privatize what was originally meant to revolutionize the agricultural sector of the country, then it is but fitting that this sector benefit from this planned sale,” the senator concluded. (Jason de Asis)
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