Pressure politics may be behind delay in new water rates – groupBy Kristine Angeli Sabillo
MANILA, Philippines – A consumer advocacy group on Sunday expressed concern that delay in the announcement of new water rates were due to concessionaires pressuring the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
Water for the People Network (WPN), in a statement sent to media, said there is “likely pressure from water the firms” owned by the Ayala Corp. and the Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which are both “interested in government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects.”
Earlier, Ayala-owned Manila Water Co. Inc. proposed a basic rate increase of P5.83 per cubic meter while MPIC pushed for an additional P8.58 per cubic meter.
The new rates from MWSS were expected to come out in August for the new five-year cycle of rate rebasing.
WPN called on MWSS to “come up with a decision favoring the consumers.”
“The MWSS will have the public’s support if it resolves expensive water rates and decides on reasonable water tariffs,” said WPN co-convenor Sonny Africa.
The advocacy group previously criticized the two concessionaires for passing-on corporate taxes to consumer water bills and the charging of both the Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (CERA) and the quarterly Foreign Currency Differential Adjustment (FCDA).
Philippine Daily Inquirer earlier said sources have confirmed reports that the MWSS will cut water rates. However, critics said water firms may resort to international arbitration to pre-empt any rate reduction.
“Arbitration totally disregards the voice of the public, upon whose shoulders its cost will again be borne,” WPN said, claiming that past arbitration rows had cost the public P140 million.