Mayor: SM only granted original proponent status not outright imprimatur to implement market project

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Being granted the original proponent status (OPS) does not mean outright imprimatur for SM Prime Holdings to implement the market modernization project, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said.

“Hindi pa nanalo ang SM. It was just given the OPS to publish the design and to start the negotiations for a public-private partnership (PPP) deal for the city market project,” the mayor clarified during the monthly meeting with the punong barangays last Oct. 14.

He said selecting the best company to implement the market project entails a long process and the grant of an OPS is just a starter.

“With the OPS, SM can negotiate the deal. If the negotiation fails, then we will not pursue the deal but if the negotiation succeeds and we agree on the design and meet all the conditions, then we will start framing the terms of reference,” the mayor explained.

“Once the terms of reference had been defined and approved, these will be published to invite other companies to participate in the process called the Swiss challenge.”

The mayor said Robinson Land Corp. and other companies can compete in the Swiss challenge. The city will then select the best proposal from the pool and have SM top it. The process will go on until an offer cannot be surpassed anymore and will be declared the winner.

The mayor said the process will take around four to five months to complete.

“One thing we can assure you is that we will have a market that is ours, market that is clean that we can be proud of,” the mayor said.

Robinsons was earlier endorsed to get the OPS by the city’s “PPP for the People” (P4) selection committee but the OPS was granted to SM instead after an evaluation showed SM had a more advantageous offer, the mayor said.

“We made the decision to maintain the integrity of our PPP process especially since the market project is just our first offering and there are others in the pipeline like the waste-to-energy, elevated railway, sewerage system, bulk water and others,” the mayor said.

“What will our future investors say, that Baguio City can settle for inferior proposals? We do not want that for our city. Let us raise our credibility and integrity. We are fair and we are straight here. I want Baguio to be synonymous with good governance, transparency and trustworthiness,” he added.

SM and Robinsons tendered unsolicited proposals for development of the market and offered to construct multi-storey structures under a 50-year lease. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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