BSP to invest P25 B for New Clark City facility

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will spend at least P25 billion for the construction of a new Currency Production Facility (CPF) in its 31.2-hectare complex in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

BSP told Manila Bulletin that the budget of "around P25 billlion" for the bigger printing facility has been approved recently.

“The actual budget for the component projects will be provided in the procurement documents, as they are filed,” the BSP said in an email.

Meanwhile, the BSP said the CPF is currently in its design phase. “(This) is estimated to be completed in the last quarter of this year,” it also said.

“After the approval of the detailed designs and plans, the BSP will open the bidding for the general contractor,” the BSP added.

After the bidding process, construction could begin as early as the first quarter of 2023. BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said earlier that construction of the new complex will take two to three years. Before the pandemic happened, the BSP was planning to start construction in the first quarter of 2020 and completion of the project is expected three years after.

The contract for the winning bidder Aidea Inc. for the architectural and engineering design services of the complex, was only completed in March of this year due to the two-year delay following the Covid health crisis.

The New Clark City home for the BSP’s printing, minting and other activity is bigger than its current six-hectare, 44-year old Security Plant Complex (SPC) in Quezon City.

The P25-billion approved budget will cover the construction of an “inclusive, green, and smart” office building, the BSP Museum, an academic building, a sports complex, data and command centers, and commercial stalls. Aidea will design all publicly accessible and semi-restricted areas.

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 P20 which will be phased out eventually to give way to its coin version.

The central bank has modernized and expanded the SPC from 2014 when the Monetary Board approved a 10-year plan but it was in 2018 when the need for a bigger facility to handle the currency requirements of a growing economy became more apparent.

The SPC, built in 1978, has the capacity to produce 3.6 billion pieces of banknotes per year. It has invested over P5 billion to buy two new superline banknotes printer, the first was bidded out in 2011 and the second in 2013. The installation and commissioning was completed in 2017. This raised the central bank’s printing capacity from 1.8 billion pieces of banknotes to 3.6 billion at the end of 2017.

The plan to relocate the printing facility was initiated during the time of BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. in 2018, but he passed away in February 2019, leaving it to his replacement, Diokno, to carry out with the proposition.

By September of that year, when Diokno led ground breaking ceremonies in New Clark City, he said it was crucial for the BSP to maintain a currency production facility that could “allow sufficient agility to meet the country’s currency requirements” and the “move to the New Clark City will also boost the central bank’s capacity to sustain its operations in times of calamity or natural disaster.”