Bukidnon eyes BOT scheme for Tree Park

Provincial board member Nemesio Beltran, Jr. told MindaNews the scheme should solve budget constraints that had caused delay in the development of the eco-tourism project since its proposal in 2003.

He said the original budget to develop the park was estimated at P8 million. The park was envisioned to have recreational amenities and scenic trails to include camping/picnic and playground groove, fishing/fishpond, boating, horseback riding, swimming pool, bird watching, mountain climbing, cultural heritage zone, wildlife sanctuary among others.

He said a BOT scheme requires no financial exposure from the provincial government, which entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in June 2003. The MOA was later amended in 2005.

The proposed tree park, on the eastern side of this city, covers land area within the political boundaries of Canayan, Sumpong, Barangay 1, Barangay 6, Barangay 9 and Casisang.

Beltran, vice chair of the board's tourism and beautification committee, said budget constraint caused the delay, hence the proposed BOT.

He said another option could be a joint venture agreement with non-government organizations or co-management financial deals with various stakeholders of the park project.

Beltran said the provincial government is yet to try a BOT scheme for  its projects.

Samuel Cadavos, head of the Bukidnon Environment and Natural Resources Office, welcomed the plan.

He clarified that the project was stalled because of lapses in the proposed management and development plan submitted to the DENR.

He said the DENR returned the plan due to a provision on settlement in the park.
He said the plan provides for a 10-hectare land for settlement of a claim by the Barangay One Landless Peoples Organization.

But Mayor Florencio T. Flores, Jr. instead offered that the city government will purchase a lot for the group, according to Cadavos.

Cadavos added that the initial plan passed to DENR did not go through a feasibility study so the P8 million estimated cost might not be enough.

He said they would conduct a detailed project study to improve the plan but gave no timeframe.

Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) is a type of project financing, wherein a private entity receives a franchise from the private or public sector to finance, design, construct, and operate a facility for a specified period, after which ownership is transferred back to the funding entity. During the time that the project proponent operates the facility, it is allowed to charge facility users appropriate tolls, fees, rentals, and charges stated in their contract to enable the project proponent to recover its investment, and operating and maintenance expenses in the project.

In a BOT arrangement, the private sector designs and builds the infrastructure, finances its construction and owns, operates and maintains it over a period, often as long as 20 or 30 years. This period is sometimes referred to as the "concession" period.

Traditionally, such projects provide for the infrastructure to be transferred to the government at the end of the concession period.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)