BSP weighs options for printing complex

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is exploring options on what to do with its six-hectare Security Plant Complex (SPC), currently valued at P8 billion, in Quezon City once it has relocated its printing facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

“We’re keeping our options open,” said BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno. He said they could choose to “keep” or “sell” or find a private sector partner for the prime property’s “joint development.”

So far, Diokno said there is “no decision yet” as they explore all three possible options.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno (MB file)

Former BSP governor, the late Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., started the ball rolling for the BSP’s relocation of its SPC to a larger area outside of Metro Manila in 2018. Espenilla had considered selling the sprawling real estate along East Avenue in Quezon City to raise additional cash for its rebuilding of its printing facility.

When he took over in 2019 as BSP’s fifth governor, Diokno continued with the plans for the relocation and under his watch, identified a 30-hectare Tarlac property as the new site for the Currency Production Facility (CPF). The BSP broke ground on this project in September 2019.

In January this year, the BSP and the Bases Conversion Development Authority signed a 50-75 year Contract of Lease. The next step is the procurement of the architectural and engineering design, and the construction of the modern, eco-friendly facilities.

The first plase of the project includes the design competition for the CPF site to be launched on Tuesday, June 8.

Diokno said they have yet to decide on costings or investments for the new printing complex. “We don’t have the numbers yet,” he said.

Before the pandemic, the BSP was planning to start construction of the CPF in the first quarter of 2020 and to complete the project after three years.

The Tarlac printing facility once operational is intended to have the full capacity to print all of the country’s banknotes requirement, currently at five billion pieces in all six denominations, including the 20-piso which will be phased out eventually to give way to its coin version.

At the moment, the 42-year old SPC can print up to 3.6 billion banknote pieces per year, and the rest or about 1.4 billion pieces are outsourced to foreign printers. The BSP has invested over P5 billion to buy two new superline banknotes printer from 2011 to 2013. The BSP has also alloted P200 million to upgrade and modernized the facility and built a new P1.2 billion minting facility in 2018.

There are only a select number of countries that can print its entire currency requirement and the BSP has been planning for that distinction for more than a decade.