Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Proceeds of FTI sale must go to Agri sector, avoid a negotiated sale
The government’s plan to sell the Food Terminal Inc. must be above board.
Playing by the rules is the only way to go. Legal shortcuts must be avoided in order to steer clear of legal disputes and controversies such as the case of PIATCO Terminal 3, or ZTE-NBN deal. On the other hand, we have the sale of MWSS or Camp John Hay from where we can pick out good lessons in handling the sale of government assets. For as long as we play by the rules, privatization has proved to be successful. If done correctly, privatization serves the national interest. We must therefore start with public bidding and avoid a negotiated sale of FTI.
FTI would be better off getting rid of the complex which has distracted it from its job of providing farmers access to markets, choosing to focus of late on being a lessor of an industrial estate. The 120 hectare agro-industrial estate in Taguig was originally meant to be a consolidation center for agricultural products. It housed a slaughterhouse, chicken dressing plant and a multi-purpose warehouse for dry storage, food-processing facilities for grading, handling and packaging for foreign market in the 1970s.
Let’s look at the objectives of selling the property. If it is for the benefit of the agricultural sector then it should be used to strengthen the capability of FTI in its role of providing access to markets. Maybe the government has finally realized that leasing an industrial zone to locators, which is what FTI has evolved into, is not its primary objective—finding markets is or should be. Therefore, the funds should be used for the retooling of FTI to answer that role. Market access is key to upping our farmers’ income.
Proceeds of the sale must be plowed back to the agricultural sector whose budget was cut in 2011. Proceeds should be used to increase public investments in the agriculture sector such as irrigation, farm to market roads and the construction of post harvest facilities. If we are to privatize what was originally meant to revolutionize the agricultural sector of the country, then it is but fitting that this sector benefit from this planned sale.