Water rate hike slammed
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 25, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Rep. Neri Colmenares of party-list group Bayan Muna on Tuesday questioned the planned increase in water rates.

He said Maynilad and Manila Water should absorb losses from foreign currency-denominated loans instead of passing these on to their customers.

“In other businesses, they are the ones that absorb bad business decisions like foreign currency losses. These water concessionaires even make their customers pay for their taxes,” Colmenares said.

He said the government should not allow Maynilad and Manila Water to include foreign currency losses, income, value added and other taxes in their billings to customers.

“This has been going on for seven years now and total charges to consumers have amounted to at least P15 billion. This practice must be stopped, especially since both companies are public utilities whose supposed main principle is public service and not profit,” he added.

Colmenares pointed out that the water concessionaires had been allowed to increase their rates by 600 percent since 1997.

Instead of increasing their fees, he said Maynilad and Manila Water should be required to refund a total of P50.7 billion they collected from the public for two water supply improvement projects that have remained unimplemented.

He said P45.3 billion has been collected for the Laiban dam project, while P5.4 billion has been accumulated for the Angat dam water reliability project.

Bayan Muna has filed a resolution asking the House of Representatives to look into fees being charged water users and the unimplemented water supply projects.

“From the investigation, we will produce a law that will prohibit this practice of allowing unreasonable fees to be collected from customers,” Colmenares said.

The water rate increase will take effect on Jan. 5, 2015 and will affect millions in Metro Manila, Cavite and Rizal.

Maynilad is increasing its rates by 1.12 percent, or 38 centavos on its basic charge of P33.97 per cubic meter, and Manila Water by 1.33 percent, or 36 centavos on its basic charge of P27.75 per cubic meter.

The two concessionaires have a pending rate adjustment issue that is under arbitration. If the matter is resolved in their favor, they would probably be allowed to implement another round of increase.

ANGAT BAYAN MUNA CAVITE AND RIZAL COLMENARES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MANILA WATER MAYNILAD AND MANILA WATER METRO MANILA NERI COLMENARES WATER
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