Dominguez suggests NAIA property sale

Published May 26, 2022, 5:21 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

Outgoing Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the next administration may possibly consider selling the property where the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is built on to raise more revenues.

While privatization is not included in his fiscal consolidation program proposal to President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Dominguez did not rule out the option of selling prime real-estate assets owned by the government such as the 63.5 billion hectare NAIA.

“That’s a definite possibility,” Dominguez told reporters when asked if the NAIA property sale could be an option for the next administration’s fundraising effort.

Dominguez disclosed that the Duterte administration had considered closing down the 74-year-old international gateway and sell its property bordered between the cities of Pasay and Parañaque.

“Actually, we have thought about that since since 2016,” the finance chief said.

But the plan did not prosper because there was no alternative airport should the government decide to halt NAIA operations.

“We have to see first how the development of the alternative to NAIA is developing. Clark [International Airport] is too far from Metro Manila,” Dominguez said.

Clark International Airport, which covers portions of the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat in Pampanga, is approximately 92 kilometers away from Metro Manila.

“Can you imagine the international travelers coming from Lipa, they need to spend another two hours. So a guy from Lipa who is going to HongKong, his travel from Lipa to Clark Airport is longer than his flight to Hong Kong,” Dominguez said.

“I’m not an expert in transportation, but you have to think about those things. You have to tie it up also with the development of the South Railway. But it is a distinct possibility,” he added.

On Wednesday, the Department of Finance (DOF) unveiled its fiscal consolidation and resource mobilization plan, which is aimed at reversing the P3.2-trillion COVID-related debt and recover from economic crisis.

Finance Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary Valery Joy Brion said as early as next year, the government will begin principal payments for loans incurred over the past two years.

Brion said that the new administration has three options: borrowing more; cutting spending; or raising revenues and improving tax administration to maintain productive spending in infrastructure, health, education, and other investments for the future.

Borrowing more cannot be a viable option as this would further push up the country’s debt level and risk downgrading its investment-grade credit ratings, she said. Interest payments would also balloon, reducing the resources available for productive spending.

Cutting spending, except for wasteful expenses, is also not a recourse because it will imperil the country’s economic recovery and lead to reduced budgets on education, health, infrastructure, and other socioeconomic priorities.