Water supply shortage? China-funded Kaliwa Dam would ‘absolutely’ help, says Dominguez
MANILA, Philippines – Water supply problem? The construction of the China-funded Kaliwa Dam will be a big help moving forward, the head of the Duterte administration’s economic team said on Wednesday.
Asked if the P18.7-billion dam that will rise in Quezon province will help solve the looming water crisis in Metro Manila, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III replied: “Absolutely.”
“Had this been done before, the water crisis could have been much less of a threat,” Dominguez told a press conference after the meeting of economic managers belonging to the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).
Dominguez said the process of bidding out and awarding the dam project was “well on its way.”
“I’m sure the MWSS [Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System] would convince contractors to move faster than originally planned,” the Finance chief said.
During China President Xi Jinping’s visit to Manila in November, Manila and Beijing committed to “facilitate the implementation of projects such as the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project.”
On the sidelines of Xi’s visit, the MWSS and the Export-Import Bank of China signed the preferential buyer’s credit loan agreement for the Kaliwa Dam.
Also, the MWSS and China Engineering Corp. already signed the contract agreement to build the dam.
However, the actual $211.2-million loan and guarantee agreements with China for the Kaliwa Dam project were yet to be signed.
According to the MWSS website, the New Centennial Water Source Project “will provide water security, reliability, and additional supply for Metro Manila.”
“It is planned to be site-specific, zeroing in on the Kaliwa-Kanan-Agos River Basin as an alternative water source. The New Centennial Water Source Project will involve the construction of a dam at the Kaliwa River (Laiban Dam), and a smaller dam (Kaliwa Dam) downstream to maximize the water supply, and to ensure short and long term supply for Metro Manila and its adjoining areas,” the MWSS said in a project brief.
So far, the Philippine and Chinese governments had only signed in April 2018 the $62.09-million US-dollar denominated loan agreement for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the first flagship infrastructure project to be financed by China under the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
For Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, the water supply shortage in Metro Manila “can be a blip” for the business sector, especially in the tourism industry.
“It’s a concern… Hotels are complaining,” said Pernia, who heads the state planning National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
Pernia nonetheless pointed out that the water concessionaires Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. were already working out solutions to address the problem, including the latter offering to share water supply to the Ayala-led company serving the east zone of Metro Manila./ac
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