Manila Water: No 2021 rate increases for now

Manila Water Co. Inc. announced on Wednesday it would postpone implementing its water rate hikes next year to help relieve the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis on its consumers.

In a statement, the Ayala-led East Zone concessionaire said it would defer raising the rate to P2 per cubic meter (cu.m.) in “the spirit of bayanihan and to help alleviate the difficulties our customers are experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, compounded by [the] effects of natural calamities.”

“The adjustment due to [the] consumer price index (CPI), or inflation, is likewise deferred for next year,” it added.

Manila Water was proposing a CPI adjustment of 2.7 percent in 2021, equivalent to about 85 centavos per cu.m. This adjustment refers to the annual revision in consumer price growth that happens every January, taking into account the increase in aggregate prices as measured by the CPI, among others.

Asked if the rates would be adjusted at a later date, Jeric Sevilla Jr., Manila Water head of corporate communications, said this “depends on future discussions” with the MWSS Regulatory Office “on how these adjustments will be implemented in the coming years.”

Patrick Lester Ty, chief regulator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), said on Tuesday water firms could defer any rate adjustment, subject to regulatory approval.

“With this decision, we continue to put our customers first as we heed the government’s call to help mitigate the impact of the disruption of economic activity [caused by Covid-19] on most Filipinos,” Manila Water said.

“We believe that, by working together as one nation, we will continue to rise above all challenges we are currently confronting and may still be facing in the future,” it added.

The P2 increase was part of the tariff hike of P6.22 to P6.50/cu.m. This was to be applied in tranches under the rate rebasing period covering 2018 to 2022.

Rate rebasing determines the charges of concessionaires for their water and sewerage services, based on their performance, expenses, earnings, unrecovered investments and service-improvement plans.

Manila Water’s announcement comes a day after West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc. decided to waive its own rate hike by P1.95/ cu.m. in 2021, as well as a CPI adjustment of 2.70 percent of the basic charge, which would have been an additional P1.03/cu.m.

“With this deferral, Maynilad hopes to alleviate the day-to-day struggles of its customers as they and the whole country strive to recover from adversity and rise stronger than before, ready to start anew,” it said.

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