Government urged to avoid ‘fire sale’ in disposing assets

GOVERNMENT’S reported plan to sell off its nonperforming assets (NPAs) should be “curated well” so it would not lead to a “fire sale” of  state-owned land, businesses and franchises, a leader of the House of Representatives warned on Tuesday.

Deputy Speaker Ralph G. Recto said the government should be careful on its plan, saying “the rule in privatization is that we should not be selling the geese that lay the golden eggs.”

“We should be careful that what remains of state crown jewels are not included in a baratilyo sale simply because we are raising funds for a project,” Recto said.

In inventorying what can be sold, the lawmaker said the strategic value of a company “should come ahead of the chance to make a fast buck out of the sale.”

“We have a stewardship role to play for the next generation,” he said.

However, Recto also mused that if “derelict assets” are successfully auctioned off, proceeds should be earmarked for “activities high in both social and financial ROIs [return on investments], like housing.”

Recto said the microscopic share of shelter agencies to the national budget—less than 1/10th of 1 percent—prompts the use of  “off-budget sources” to wipe out the estimated 6.658 million housing backlog.

The Department of Housing, Shelter and Urban Development and its attached agencies account for P4.7 billion of the P5.26 trillion national budget this year.

At P1 million per unit, the DHSUD said it would require P6.658 trillion to erase the shelter deficit.

Recto said the land required alone for the 6.658 million units is about 61,000 hectares, “which is about 15 times the land area of Manila.”

The lawmaker said building up the shelter inventory in numbers not seen before is not mission impossible under the Marcos administration.

“One, you have as Secretary of Housing a proven builder, the first time in history,” he said. “Second, housing is in the legacy agenda of President [Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.] because he has to do better than her mom, who built those BLISS [Bagong Lipunan. (New Society) Improvement of Sites and Services] condos, which remain a good template for mass housing,” Recto said.


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