Casiño: Water firms should not let public shoulder their forex losses

PARTYLIST Rep. Teddy Casiño today questioned the proposed water rate hike of Manila Water Corporation and Maynilad Water Services Inc., saying they were passing on to the public costs that should be shouldered by the big corporate concessionaires.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) has approved the foreign currency differential adjustments of its water concessionaires, Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc.

“This new round of water rates adjustment is both unjustified and unconscionable. It is outrageous for consumers to be made to pay for the risks and wrong business decisions of the water concessionaires with regards to the loans they make,” Casiño said.

“In other businesses, losses due to changes in foreign exchange rates are absorbed by the company as part of regular business risks. 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. It is like having their cake and eating it, too,” said Casiño.

He said such schemes have allowed Manila Water and Maynilad to increased water rates by 600% since 1997 when the MWSS was privatized.

“To make matters worse, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System-Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) approved the rate hike even as the two private 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” said the progressive solon.

“The impending water cost adjustments have 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 hikes. They have not given the public the opportunity to challenge the increase. Public information and consultation are imperative requisites that the MWSS-RO, which supposedly serves as the protector of public interest, has totally been denied to the populace,” he added.

“In the first place, the MWSI and MWC must first refund billions of pesos it collected from the public for still unimplemented water projects before it could increase water charges. Among these projects are the P5.4 billion Angat Water Reliability, and P45.3 billion Laiban dam projects. If the MWSS-RO cannot explain this clearly to the public then we may have to investigate it in Congress,” said Casiño.

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