Water firms to appeal MWSS rate cut order

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11:40 PM September 16th, 2013

By: Ronnel W. Domingo, September 16th, 2013 11:40 PM

The two Metro Manila water service concessionaires will dispute the order of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s (MWSS) for a rate reduction by filing an appeal before an arbitration panel.

Following the announcement last Thursday of regulators’ decision to deny their proposed rate hikes for the next five years, both Manila Water Company Inc. and Maynilad Water Service Inc. have until Oct. 13 to lodge the appeal.

In a statement published Monday, Maynilad cited Section 7.1 of the concession agreement, where the rate determined by MWSS may be brought before arbitration.

As such, Maynilad said that present water rates would remain in effect, pending the resolution of the appeal.

Cherubim Ocampo-Mojica, head of corporate communications at Maynilad, explained that under the agreement, a concessionaire has a month to do so before an internationally constituted appeals panel.

This was echoed by Manila Water spokesperson Jeric Sevilla who said the agreement gives the concessionaire 31 days from receipt of a disputed regulatory decision to file for arbitration.

The panel would consist of three members—one of which is appointed by the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO), another by the concessionaire and a third by the International Chamber of Commerce who shall serve as chair.

Mojica said that the concession agreement gives this appeals panel 60 days from receipt of the notice of dispute and statement of claim to come up with a final determination, which is either the rate set by the MWSS RO or the one claimed by the concessionaire.

This 60-day period may be extended if both parties agree, she added.

“In the meantime, the currently implemented rates will be applied until the panel makes a final determination,” she said.

Manila Water said in a separate statement that it is going for arbitration to assure its customers a sustainable and secure water supply, as well as to address “the need for government to preserve the momentum and gains achieved by the most successful public-private partnership for the last 16 years,” referring to its concession.

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