MWSS to allow staggered water rate hikes starting 2023

 MWSS to allow staggered water rate hikes starting 2023

THE METROPOLITAN Waterworks and Sewerage System Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) said rate increases to be charged by Metro Manila’s two water concession holders will be spaced out to avoid sudden increases in consumer water bills.

MWSS Chief Regulator Patrick Lester N. Ty said during the virtual pre-rate rebasing public consultation exercise Monday that prices will have to rise by 2023 because of previously deferred rate adjustments that had been granted to Manila Water Co., Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

“We will more or less push these further down up to the sixth or seventh rate rebasing, and spread it out some more. Any tariff adjustment can be spread out in the remaining years of the concessionaires. That is the plan right now,” Mr. Ty said.

Mr. Ty said the deferrals are intended as relief for consumers in financial distress due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“(The deferred adjustments) will increase the cost in the future. But because of the pandemic, we find it prudent to do that since we need the assistance now,” Mr. Ty said.

The deferred adjustments are part of the current or fourth rate rebasing period, which started in 2018 and will finish in 2022.

Manila Water and Maynilad deferred their respective staggered rate adjustments in 2021, also to provide relief to consumers.

The two water providers have only been able to implement the first tranche of the staggered rate hike for the current rate rebasing period.

Rate rebasing is done every five years, accompanied by a performance review and validation of the two companies’ projected cash flows. It also sets the water rates in a manner that allows the water suppliers to recover their expenditures.

Mr. Ty said the business plans of the two water concession holders are due on March 31 and are needed to determine rates for the next rate rebasing period.

Recently, MWSS Administrator Leonor C. Cleofas said the effectivity date of the revised concession agreements signed by both Manila Water and Maynilad was moved to Dec. 18.

Ms. Cleofas said the delay was intended to allow more time to meet the requirements for enforcing the new concession agreements. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave