MWSS denies hike plea, orders lower water rates for next 5 yearsBy Jong Manlapaz, Kristine Angeli Sabillo
INQUIRER.net, Radyo Inquirer 990AM
MANILA, Philippines – Water rates in Manila will go down by more than one peso per cubic meter starting October, said Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in an interview with Radyo Inquirer 990AM Thursday.
Atty. Manuel Caparas, acting chief regulator of MWSS, said their Board of Trustees has decided to lower the water rates of two private concessionaires.
Caparas, after a press briefing, said Maynilad’s rate will be cut by P1.29 per cubic meter starting October while Manila Water Co. Inc.’s will decrease by P1.45 per cubic meter.
The regulator assured the public that the Board’s decision will not change but the final outcome will also depend if whether the concessionaires would ask for a compromise or arbitration.
Caparas said they based the decision by studying the accounts of the companies, adding that they saw costs that didn’t need to be that expensive or were not needed at all.
“Merong mga bagay na hindi na kailangan ituloy at may mga bagay na pwedeng i-adjust adjust pa para hindi naman masyadong mahal ang magiging gastusin nila,” he said.
(“There were things that didn’t need to be continued and there were things that could be adjusted so their expenses would not be as costly,” he said.)
Caparas said they were sure that the cuts will not affect the concessionaires’ businesses or their obligations under the agreement with the government.
The decision came after months of public clamor against Manila Water’s proposed basic rate increase of P5.83 per cubic meter and Maynilad’s request for an additional P8.58 per cubic meter.
The Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC)-owned Maynilad, in a statement posted in the Philippine Stock Exchange website, said the reduction of their water tariff by 4.82 percent was “unjustified.”
“Maynilad will thus initiate arbitration proceedings to dispute the MWSS decision and to settle the tariff rebasing promptly, to avoid any disruption in its operations to the detriment of its consumers,” it said.
Ayala-owned Manila Water also opposed the 29.47 percent reduction of their basic water charge which will be implemented in five equal tranches in the next years.
“Manila Water objects to the Rate Rebasing Determination…Manila Water will file a Dispute Notice before a duly-convened arbitration panel and commence the arbitration process outlined under the Concession Agreement,” it said in a statement.
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,” said consumer advocacy group Water for the People Network, claiming that past arbitration rows had cost the public P140 million.