By Ben Rosario
A senior administration congressman on Saturday welcomed the participation of the Asian Development Bank in revising the Metro Manila water concession agreement with two business giants, saying ADB is a “good faith partner” of the government.
In a press statement, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte-Salceda said that after President Rodrigo Duterte provided the “much-needed political impetus” to break out of the concession agreements, advisers who will help government get a fairer and better arrangement are welcome.
“The ADB is also a good-faith partner of the government in ensuring that the terms of the agreement are equitable and efficient, as it has always been a steady supporter of addressing the capital’s water woes,” said Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means.
Last month, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the ADB has been tapped as consultants in the drafting of the new concession agreement with the current water concessionaires, Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company Inc.
As consultants, the ADB is tasked to guide the government side in revising the economic and financial terms of the much-criticized water concession agreement.
Salceda stressed that ADB’s participation is a welcome development for government and water users in Metro Manila and adjoining localities in Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal.
“Structural reform includes improving long-term public-private deals, especially since these deals have a very real impact on the quality of life of our people,” the veteran solon said.
While Duterte has already provided the political will to get a fairer and better deal with the concessionaires, a “careful study” of the provisions of a new deal is imperative, he said.
“I think we can come up with better arrangements, as this process will also serve as some sort of audit of the current deal,” Salceda said.
“We expect that the involvement of a professional and dependable partner like the ADB would enable both the government and the concessionaires to arrive at a deal that is both equitable and efficient in delivering intended public welfare outcomes.”