THE government is not keen on giving additional support to United Coconut Planters Bank beyond Dec. 31, 2018, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said over the weekend.
Dominguez said during a Manila Overseas Press Club forum held in Makati City the capital program for UCPB would expire at the end of 2018 and that the government would not extend it beyond that date.
“Well, the capital program of UCPB is expiring on Dec. 31, 2018 and we are not inclined to have it (extended)... I told them we are not planning to extend it, so that gives us our own internal deadline... It must be either sold or not sold,” Dominguez said.
He said the government was privatizing all its assets and speeding up the process. Among these assets are UCPB, the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the controversial Mile Long property in Makati City.
“We have a bank that is supposed to be in play for privatization, [UCPB] that is the bank... We will have a price for the bank without any support. We are supporting the bank at the moment... ,” he said.
Earlier, a number of bigger commercial banks expressed interest to acquire UCPB when news of its privatization broke out.
UCPB was placed under the supervision of the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation in March 2016.
The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on June 30, 2016, setting aside Executive Orders 179 and 180 signed by President Benigno Aquino III in March 2015.
The Aquino directives ordered the UCPB privatization and the re-conveyance to the government of about P74.3 billion in coco levy funds.
The SC issued the TRO after a petition filed by the Confederation of Coconut Farmers’ Organizations of the Philippines Inc., which alleged the privatization would deny the coconut farmers of their right over the coco levy funds.
UCPB was originally under the supervision of the Presidential Commission on Good Government when the agency was still litigating cases involving the bank. Former president Aquino approved the privatization of UCPB following the Supreme Court’s Jan 24, 2012 ruling that effectively made the bank a GOCC.
Proceeds from the UCPB sale under Executive Order No. 179 would be used by the government for the benefit of the coco farmers.
GCG said until the privatization is implemented, UCPB remains a GOCC that must comply with the corporate governance requirements.
But by the middle of September, the Supreme Court lifted the temporary restraining order it issued in 2015 that stalled the use of the P75-billion coconut levy fund.
In a 21-page decision, the SC said it lifted effective immediately the TRO it issued on June 30, 2015, alongside the voiding of four sections of the guidelines for utilization of the coco levy funds.