Foreign Affairs, SM ink deal for consular offices hosting

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and mall giant SM Prime Holdings entered an agreement for the placement of passport services to shopping malls nationwide.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy signed a memorandum of agreement wherein SM malls will host five consular offices in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
The deal would help the DFA save more than P1 billion and bring consular services closer to the public.
“It is a matter of great satisfaction to have entered into this partnership with SM Prime Holdings as the combined PPP [Public-Private Partnership] arrangements we have entered into with the private sector since the last quarter of 2011 on this initiative now translates to almost P1.04 billion in savings for the government over a period of 10 years,” del Rosario said.
The PPP arrangements with SM will cover the transfer and hosting of existing consular offices in Davao, Baguio and Batangas as well as the opening of extension offices at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong and SM City in Manila, which will occupy a combined floor area of more than 3,400 square meters.
Earlier, the DFA already entered into similar, albeit smaller, deals with Pacific Mall Corporation, Robinsons Land Corporation and Ayala Land Incorporated to host 11 consular offices nationwide.
“In addition to the millions of pesos the government will be saving in the next 10 years, our partnership with SM and our other friends in the private sector will allow us to extend consular services in modern, applicant-friendly settings at no cost to the Filipino taxpayer,” del Rosario said.
“Our arrangements with SM are also particularly important as the opening of new consular offices at the SM Megamall and SM City in Manila will pave the way for the decongestion of the Office of Consular Affairs at the Aseana Business Park in Paranaque,” he added.
The opening of the first two passport extension offices in Metro Manila, the DFA chief said, would allow the department to facilitate the consular requirements of some of the more than 10,000 people that visit the main passport facility along Macapagal Avenue daily. (CVB/Sunnex)

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