[dropcap color=”#dd9933″]E[/dropcap]NERGY Secretary and Vice Chairman of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) board Carlos Jericho L. Petilla will look into the winning bid of South Korea-based STX Marine Service Co. Ltd., which recently won a one-year contract to operate and maintain the 650-megawatt (MW) Malaya thermal power plant in Rizal.
Petilla said a probe, if necessary, will be conducted as he pointed out that the South Korean firm’s financial standing is questionable, citing industry sources. He also said the bid rules state that only Filipino firms can participate. “We will look into it and see if there is a basis to these [issues],” he said.
Industry sources pointed out that STX is not financially fit to operate and maintain the power facility because its parent firm in South Korea allegedly sold assets about two years ago, except its shipbuilding business, to stay afloat. Some affiliates also reportedly filed for bankruptcy in South Korea two years ago.
The bid offer of STX stood at P302.149 million, 33 percent lower than the approved budget set by PSALM at P451 million. Industry observers are worried that STX may not be able to efficiently operate and maintain the plant.
The other bidder, SPC Power Corp., submitted a bid of P428,777,888. SPC is currently operating and maintaining the Malaya facility.
Another issue raised on the winning bid is the eligibility of STX. Sources questioned the move of PSALM to open the bidding to a 100-percent foreign firm when in its previous notice, the bids and awards committee noted that it will only invite “all interested and qualified parties, at least 60 percent of whose interest belong to citizens of the Philippines.”
STX has no office in the Philippines and has no joint-venture partner when it submitted its bid offer to PSALM.
For PSALM’s part, President Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. said, “foreign bidders may be allowed by a treaty, on the condition of reciprocity or when there is a need to prevent situations that defeat competition or restrain trade.”
The PSALM board, he added, has yet to award the contract to STX, saying the bid has yet to undergo a post-qualification process.
“Award will be made after completion of the post qualification of the lowest bidder.
This process may take awhile but it should be completed before the expiration of the existing [Operation and Maintenance Service Contract] of Malaya on October 25,” Ledesma said.