The government and Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad Water) have not started their talks on the new water concession agreement (CA), Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Wednesday, April 28.
Guevarra said the government panel has sent a revised copy of the CA to Maynilad Water and “I understand that Maynilad has referred the said CA to its principals and is presently awaiting their comments.”
“Thereafter, the two sides will come together and commence their discussions,” he said.
Maynilad Water and Manila Water Company, Inc. are the two water concessionaries in Metro Manila and some nearly provinces.
Last March 31, the government signed a new CA with Manila Water. It will take effect six months after the signing, Guevarra said.
The new CA with Manila Water was signed for the government by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
Guevarra had said that the new agreement will provide “definitely better overall service and more reasonable charges to consumers.”
He said the most important feature of the new agreement is the removal of the non-interference clause which prevents the government from having a say concerning water rates.
Also, the new provisions included a ban on water rates increase until Dec. 31, 2022, he added.
The government panel in the negotiations on water concession agreements is composed of representatives from the Office of the President, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
President Duterte himself pushed for the revision of the water concession deals as early as December 2019 after a DOJ panel of reviewers found numerous onerous provisions in the existing agreements then signed with the two water concessionaires.
Last Nov. 10, the President approved the drafts of the revised concession agreements with Maynilad and Manila Water.