Guevarra: New water contracts with concessionaires ‘pro-people’

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the government’s primary goal in crafting new contracts with water concessionaires was to protect the people against disadvantageous agreements.

β€œIt is the consuming public, not profit-seeking capitalists, who need more protection by government,” he said.

β€œ The proposed new contracts intend to remove all illegal provisions and foster greater transparency and equitability in rate-setting, and should therefore provide a more stable and comfortable environment for investors,” Guevarra continued.

Earlier, Guevarra disclosed that the proposed new contracts with water concessionaires Manila Water Co. and Maynilad Water Services Inc. may be available in six months.

Guevarra disclosed that the Justice Department, Office of the Solicitor General, and Office of the Government Corporate Counsel review team would still be needing inputs from the Department of Finance over the economic and financial provisions of the draft contract.

“We are really leaving it to the Department of Finance to fill in certain inputs pertaining to financial matters and economic issues pertaining to the reformation or adjustment of this new water concession agreement,” Guevarra said.

But Guevarra assured the concessionaires that they will be given ample opportunity by the government to scrutinize and renegotiate the new agreement.

“There will be a process of discussion and renegotiation. It’s not a 100-percent take it or leave it thing. We are reasonable in so far as this matter is concerned,” Guevarra .

Last month, Guevarra said the government could lose billions of pesos to Maynilad and Manila Water because of two disadvantageous provisions in its 22-year-old agreements with the said water concessionaires.

A Singapore-based arbitration panel ordered the government to pay Manila Water P7.39 billion in years’ worth of losses due to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s reduction of water rates instead of an approval of their proposed rate hikes, while Maynilad was awarded a P3.424-billion reimbursement in 2017

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