Water rates in Boracay to rise soonBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr. |Inquirer Visayas
ILOILO CITY—Water and wastewater service rates on Boracay Island, Aklan, already one of the highest in the country, are expected to increase early this year.
The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) is expected to pass a resolution within the month on how much increase the Boracay Island Water Company (BIWC) can collect, said lawyer Marites Alvarez, officer in charge of the Tieza regulatory office.
She added that the Tieza board of directors might decide to implement the increase on a staggered basis for several years, starting with 10 percent this year to cushion the impact on consumers.
The Tieza, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, has a 20-percent controlling stake in BIWC with Ayala-owned Manila Water Company.
As an agency that regulates operations of tourism enterprise zones and projects, the Tieza sets the rates for the island’s main water and sewerage provider.
Businessmen and local officials are expected to oppose the proposed increase, especially since Boracay’s water and wastewater service rates are already among the highest in the country.
“The proposed increase is exorbitant,” said Councilor Rowen Aguirre, chair of the town council’s committee on laws and ordinances.
The 1,032-hectare island-
resort belongs to the territorial jurisdiction of the Malay municipal government.
Aguirre pointed out that the council agreed to a higher rate when BIWC started to operate because they wanted to improve the quality of service on the island.
“But we were assured that the rates would even go down as the number of subscribers increased,” Aguirre said.
Business operators, who spoke to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity, said an increase in water and sewerage could result in higher rates for hotels and other businesses because business operators would pass on the cost increase to consumers.
The municipal council has also questioned why the Tieza would approve the rate increase when it is part of the joint venture project that created BIWC.
“A government agency should not be the one regulating itself,” said Aguirre.
The BIWC earlier proposed a 35.39-percent increase starting on Jan. 1 but it was not implemented due to opposition from residents and business owners.
Alvarez said BIWC is seeking the increase because its rates have not changed in five years and to cover the costs of investments and upgrading projects.
The BIWC last year installed a P126-million 1-kilometer-long submarine pipeline that is intended to increase the water supply capacity by 26- to 28-million liters per day to 37-39 mld.
The new pipeline has a diameter of 400 mm, bigger than the existing 250-mm diameter pipeline which supplies water from Nabaoy River in Malay to Boracay across Tabon Strait.