Multisectoral alliance Water for the People Network (WPN) hit the announced water rate hike starting next year by the private concessionaires of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). The group said that the impending increase will further burden some 13 million people in Metro Manila and nearby provinces who have seen their water bills soar by as much 1,000% since the MWSS was privatized 15 years ago.
The advocacy group also noted that the water rates in Metro Manila are already among the highest in the Asian region. According to the 2011 survey of the Japan External Trade Organization, Manila water rates rank fifth among Asian cities behind Singapore, Jakarta and Cebu. It is also higher than water rates in Sydney, Australia. The water distribution system in Cebu is being managed by the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) which has also been under constant threat of privatization. Earlier this year, the provincial government of Cebu has privatized its bulk water system through an agreement with Manila Water.
The WPN blamed privatization for the incessant rise in water bills. It pointed out that the concession agreement of the MWSS with the private concessionaires allows automatic adjustments to protect the profits of the water firms.
Private concessionaires Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. disclosed this week that they will again adjust their basic charge to reflect the movement in the inflation rate as provided under their respective concession agreements with the MWSS. For ordinary Maynilad customers or those with a monthly consumption of 30 cubic meters will see their bill in January next year increase by Php22.52 and Php6 for Manila Water.
The MWSS Regulatory Office allowed a 3.2% adjustment in the consumer price index (CPI) to be applied to the private water concessionaires’ current basic charge.
Based on the monitoring of the WPN, the average tariff of Maynilad has jumped from Php4.96 per cubic meter when it first took over the MWSS’s west zone service area to Php32.92 this year. During the same period, Manila Water which services the east zone has hiked its average tariff from Php2.32 per cubic meter to Php27.44.
The WPN argued that the skyrocketing user fees being charged by Maynilad and Manila Water violate the right to water especially of poor households who find it difficult to cope with ever increasing cost of living. Further, the group warned the public to brace for more possible rate hikes next year as a result of the regular five-year rate rebasing exercise of the concessionaires with the MWSS. (end)