AN ALLY of President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives on Saturday hit impending water rate hike by Manila Water and Maynilad at P.36 and P.77 per cubic meter, respectively, even as he would call for a congressional probe into the matter.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System-Regulatory Office should not have approved the rate hike because the two water concessionaires have yet to refund to their respective customers the more than P6 billion they have collected for unimplemented water and sewerage improvement projects, along with the dam projects.
“Manila Water and Maynilad must first refund billions of pesos [they] collected from the public for still unimplemented water projects before [they] could talk about increase [in] water charges. Among these projects are the P5.4-billion Angat Water Reliability, and P45.3-billion Laiban dam projects,” Zarate, of the left-leaning group, said.
“Furthermore the water cost adjustment has been approved although consumers have never been given direct access to information into the formula used as basis for the MWSS-RO to approve the hike,” Zarate said.
He said the water rate increase to be implemented by the two water concessionaires did not.go through a thorough public consultation.
“The two water concessionaires have not given the public the opportunity to challenge the increase. Public information and consultation are imperative requisites that MWSS-RO, which supposedly serves as the protector of public interest, has totally...denied to the populace,” Zarate stressed.
He also questioned “why should Maynilad and Manila Water pass on their business cost to consumers for the supposed additional capital they have infused?”
He said the consumers have no responsibility to shoulder the capital used by the companies, such as the two water concessionaires, or help them recover their losses.
“That is a risk businesses take and it should not be passed on to consumers.”
Zarate added: “Also in other businesses, they are the ones who absorb bad business decisions and business risks like the foreign currency differential adjustment and pay their own taxes but these water concessionaires are raking in billions by fooling us.
“They even pass to consumers losses due to changes in foreign exchange rates.
“But in this case, the concessionaires borrow from foreign creditors without any qualms knowing that they are insulated from the risk ordinary borrowers take because they’re allowed to pass on their forex losses to their consumers.”
Since the privatization of water utilities in 1997, Maynilad and Manila Water had increased the water rates by 600 percent, Zarate.accused.
“They are also passing their incomes taxes; value-added tax, documentation stamps and other taxes to consumers. According to the Water for the People Network, this has been going on for nine years and now amounts to at least P15 billion,” he said.
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