By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – India’s GMR Group has expressed interest in investing in the Marcos administration’s ambitious “Build Better More” Infrastructure Program, particularly in airport, road and energy projects, Malacañang said Friday.
This developed after GMR Group’s top executives made a courtesy call on President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on the sidelines of the 10th Asian Summit in Singapore, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.
“GMR officials said they would provide long-term solutions to the Philippines, especially in infrastructure and energy,” Garafil said.
Marcos told GMR’s top executives that building major infrastructures is part of the administration’s economic agenda to advance the country’s development.
Impressed by GMR’s achievements, the President expressed hope that GMR could apply all its experiences and expertise if it pushes through with its plan to invest in the Philippines’ infrastructure development program.
“We’ve been trying, the reason, we go to this process, is that it is a major part of our economic program. Well, of course, Manila is the gateway, even regional airports we are starting to develop so that not everyone have to get to Sangley or Bulacan,” Marcos said, as quoted by the PCO. “Improve those airports, improve those facilities, roads, communication, then they can go directly there.”
He expressed optimism that GMR’s investment plan would materialize to assist his administration in the development of the Philippine airports, roads and energy infrastructure.
“And we want that, especially when it comes to travel, tourism, business travel, etc. We want it to increase as much as possible. I’m glad that you are looking at the Philippines,” he said.
GMR Airports chairperson Srinivas Bommidala told Marcos that he is responsible for the group’s international airports and energy, while his brother-in-law, Kiran Kumar Grandhi, heads the group in charge of strategy and finance.
“The group started in 1978 by Mr. GM Rao, my father-in-law, his father. And they have commendable businesses. In 1994, we went into highways. In 1999, when India privatized (the) airports, we build airport, six airports in India,” Bommidala told the President.
Leonides Virata, chief executive officer of Cavitex Holdings, said the Indian firm sees Sangley’s potential in resolving airport congestion issues in the Philippines.
Cavitex Holdings is GMR’s local partner and leads the consortium that bagged the Sangley Point International Airport Project.
The consortium is just awaiting government clearances before commencing ground works, Virata said, adding that the plan is to start the construction in Sangley, Cavite province next year and finish the runway in the next five years.
Other attendees during the courtesy call were GMR Group chairperson Kiran Kumar Grandhi, financial advisor to the Sangley Consortium for international investment in the Philippines Liu Chee Ming, Presidential Adviser on Investment and Economic Affairs Frederick Go and House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez.
Aside from its interest in the Sangley airport project, GMR is one of the five potential bidders who bought bid documents as of Sept. 13 for the PHP170.6-billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport public-private partnership project.
GMR firm has spent 11 years in the Philippines, operating the Mactan-Cebu and Clark, Pampanga airports.
Founded in 1978 by Grandhi Mallikarjuna Rao, GMR Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate based in New Delhi. It comprises several companies, including GMR Infrastructure, GMR Energy, GMR Airports and GMR Enterprises.
The group is a leading conglomerate in India, which also operates in Indonesia and Turkey. (PNA)