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Privatization office targets P2 billion in asset disposals

THE Department of Finance (DoF) said its Privatization and Management Office (PMO) hopes to dispose of P2 billion worth of assets via auction this year.

The target, if achieved, represents a step up from the P501 million generated last year, Finance Undersecretary Catherine L. Fong said in a Viber message.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno is aiming to increase the pace of privatization under the current government, noting that in the previous administration, the privatization council hardly met, she said.

Ms. Fong said privatizing the commercial operations of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) is expected to take some time despite support from its board, after the chairman requested a delay of one or two years in consideration of employees who might be affected.

The extension was also requested in order to increase the value of the casinos, Ms. Fong added.

The value of PAGCOR will lie mainly in its licenses, as it leases all its casino properties, she said.

The PMO is required to have P500 million worth of assets ready for auction every month.

She said appraisals are challenging, as the rules require two independent appraisals before an asset can be auctioned.

Last year’s asset sale level could be exceeded with the sale of the government’s stake in NLEX Corp., which Ms. Fong said could raise billions of pesos.

Ms. Fong told reporters on Friday that at least four copper and nickel mines are being readied for auction this year, noting possible foreign interest in Basay Mining Corp. in Negros Oriental.

Basay Mining auction preparations are nearing the final stages, she said, with the disposal to be structured as a joint venture.

The government has been looking to privatize Basay Mining since February 2022. The company has been inactive since 1983.

The mine is awaiting a valuation opinion to validate the worth of its remaining resource. — Aaron Michael C. Sy

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