Probe water concession deals, Congress urged
MANILA, Philippines — Congress should investigate the water supply agreements entered into by the government with two water concessionaires in light of a foreign arbitration tribunal’s order for the Philippine government to pay a concessionaire P7.4 billion as ”guaranteed profit,” party list group Bayan Muna said on Saturday.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate blamed the “onerous provisions” of the concession agreement, in which the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) assumed the duty to pay the water firms their “guaranteed profit.”
“The Singapore Arbitration Panel recently ordered MWSS to pay Manila Water P7.4 billion because MWSS refused Manila Water’s demand to increase water rates in 2015. This is actually penalizing consumers who will ultimately pay for this, ” he said.
In a disclosure on Friday, Manila Water Co. said the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Singapore ruled that the Philippine government must indemnify the company P7.39 billion for losses incurred due to the nonimplementation of rate hikes.
“The tribunal ruled that Manila Water has a right to indemnification for actual losses suffered by it on account of the (government’s) breach of its obligation,” it said.
Manila Water said the indemnity covers losses incurred from June 1, 2015, to Nov. 22, 2019, which corresponds to the period that MWSS supposedly did not implement the water rate hikes.
Zarate branded the tribunal’s decision as “a mockery and an insult to Filipino consumers.”
“This decision came about because of the onerous concession agreement signed by government with the two water concessionaires and this should be investigated,” the Bayan Muna lawmaker said.
The arbitration ruling, Zarate said, exposes the “tragedy and lunacy of privatization.”
Lawyer Neri Colmenares, Bayan Muna chair, also backed the proposed inquiry and eventual scrapping of the concession agreements.
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