New water deal to give gov’t power to stop rate hikes – Nograles
MANILA, Philippines — The government will have the power to stop any water rate hike under the new water concession deal it will propose to Maynilad Water Services, Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc., a Cabinet official said Friday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said giving the government the regulatory functions is among the new provisions inserted in the new water concession deal that government lawyers are currently working on, a stark contrast from the current deal where the state is rendered “powerless” in water rate setting.
Nograles added that business taxes will no longer be passed on to consumers under the new deal.
“First of all, hindi na magpa-pass on ng taxes. ‘Yung business taxes hindi ipa-pass on sa consumers. So at the very least hindi na dapat yan makikita sa water bills ninyo,” Nograles told reporters in Malacañang.
(First of all, they will no longer pass on taxes. Business taxes will no longer be passed on to consumers. So at the very least, you should never see it in your water bills.)
“Number 2, hindi na pagbabawalan ang gobyerno to stop any water rate hike…’Yung regulatory function ng government will necessarily continue,” he added.
(Number 2, the government is no longer prohibited to stop any water rate hike. The regulatory function of the government will necessarily continue.)
Maynilad and Manila Water service Metro Manila and nearby provinces under 25-year concession deals signed in 1997, but President Rodrigo Duterte previously ordered the government lawyers to craft new concession deals after labeling the current agreements with the two water firms as “onerous and disadvantageous” to Filipinos.
Nograles said the government is still finalizing the new deal and could be finished in six months “at the maximum.”
The Cabinet official also bared that under the new deal, the government will be able to set “targets” in terms of water service, sewerage, and sanitation and could even impose sanctions should the water firms failed to comply.
Duterte has said that the government will take over water distribution services if the water concessionaires refuse to accept the new water deal.
“It’s either they accept with no guarantee that they will not be prosecuted, or if they do not accept it, then I will nationalize the water system and prosecute them for plunder or estafa on a large scale,” Duterte said in a recent speech.
The President ordered last month the filing of criminal charges filed against the two water companies, including their billionaire owners, that had won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.
Edited by KGA
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