Maynilad postpones 2021 water rate hike

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
This file photo shows a caretaker checking water meters in Quezon City.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Households and businesses in areas serviced by Maynilad Water Services Inc. will see steady water bills next year after the utility firm deferred planned rate increases to ease the burden on customers reeling from the pandemic's impact on their livelihood.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Pangilinan-led company said a rate increase originally scheduled next year will not be implemented as well as the mandated rebasing of utility costs to take into account inflation.

"With this deferral, Maynilad hopes to alleviate the day-to-day struggles of its customers as they and the whoe country strive to recover from adversity and rise stronger than before, ready to start anew," the company said.

The move is expected to ease the burden on customers in the west zone of Metro Manila consisting of Caloocan, Pasay, Navotas, Malabon, Paranaque and select areas in Makati, Manila and Quezon City, as well as Cavite province. For this year alone, regulators ordered Maynilad, and the Metro's other water concessionaire, Manila Water Company Inc., to offer grace periods in paying bills.

Maynilad was supposed to increase rates to P1.95 per cubic meter next year, the fourth hike since the first adjustment was enforced in 2018. The increases, which were approved by regulators before the pandemic struck, were scheduled in tranches until 2022.

Done every 5 years, rebasing is meant to ensure that water firms recover their investment costs incurred in improving the Metro's dilapidated water system.

It is still unclear how Maynilad's rate hike deferrals would affect its balance sheet. In the first half, the water firm registered a core net income of P3.6 billion, down 22% year-on-year due to higher expenses in fixing aging pipes to prevent water from leaking. 

"During these difficult times when no one is spared from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maynlad is one with the government in finding ways to help our countrymen make the situation more manageable," the company said.

On Tuesday, shares in Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Maynilad's parent firm, shed 0.25% to close at P4 each.



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