PrimeWater says it has nothing to do with moves to privatize MCWD

By: Doris Bongcac and Wenilyn Sabalo - CDN Digital Copy Editor, CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | June 24,2023 - 12:33 PM

water tariff hike

Will the privatization of the MCWD finally bring water security to its consumers, or compound the worsening water supply woes in the metro?  | File photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp., whose name was dragged into alleged initiatives to ‘privatize’ the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD), said that they do not engage in the ‘outright purchase’ or the ‘full privatization of such assets.”

Under its joint development initiatives, “the company finances and implements the construction, development, and operation of critical infrastructure to support, supplement and enhance a local water system operator’s existing assets, the company does not in so doing engage in the outright purchase or full privatization of such assets,” PrimeWater said in a statement.

PrimeWater issued its statement on Saturday, June 24, 2023, to clarify that they do not have any personal interest in MCWD. And just like any other service provider, they merely offer their services to the water district as they continue looking for possible local partners.

MCWD Chairman Jose Daluz III had earlier said that the city government was trying to privatize the water district, a move which Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama refuted.

Rama has denied accusations by some members of the MCWD Board of Directors that he was endorsing the Villar group that owns PrimeWater to implement privatization plans.

In its statement, PrimeWater maintained that the company continuously engages in exploratory discussions as part of its ordinary course of business with LGUs and local water districts to assess if there are ways and means by which the company may contribute to and enhance water supply systems within their respective jurisdictions.

It added that a PrimeWater team “made a presentation of the company’s credentials to initiate discussions for the pursuit of potential joint development for the city’s water security requirements.”

“As part of standard procedures, the team was later advised to send a formal letter of intent to the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), and in so doing, the company requested an opportunity to be furnished further data and information to confirm these requirements and to determine whether these potential joint development activities would be mutually feasible for all stakeholders involved,” the company said in a statement.

It added that the company’s public-private partnerships involve the joint development of the water distribution and supply systems via joint ventures with existing stakeholders, whether LGUs or local water districts.

Meanwhile, amid circulating reports that Mayor Rama is trying to broker a deal with the Villar group to privatize MCWD, Jodelyn May Seno, an MCWD board member, confirmed that she was able to attend a meeting with PrimeWater at Mayor Michael Rama’s residence last February 2023.

In a statement, she said that she was present when a PrimeWater official asked the mayor about a “letter” to signal the start of the discussion on the company’s takeover during the breakfast meeting at the mayor’s residence last February 16.

“We were invited for breakfast at the mayor’s residence to listen to certain guests. We had no idea who the visitors were. The invitation was for breakfast but there was no agenda given,” Seno said in a statement.

Daluz and Pato reportedly were not present during the meeting.

Seno said through the mayor, PrimeWater executives were able to present their intention to conduct “due diligence and data gathering” in coming up with a feasibility study for the alleged “development program” for MCWD during a board meeting on Feb. 17, a day after the breakfast meeting at the mayor’s residence.

The board members, however, were non-committal and addressed every point raised by the presenter as “noted.”

On Feb. 22, MCWD, through its general manager, Edgar Donoso and Daluz sent a letter to PrimeWater in response to its Feb. 12 letter of intent, informing that the company cannot proceed with the request to conduct a study.

“After the MCWD Board clarified their stand against privatization, Rama called for a meeting at his Cebu City Hall office, plotting for Daluz’s ouster and installing Pato as the new chair, invoking his “emergency power” amid the El Niño phenomenon,” Seno said in a statement.          /rcg


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TAGS: Mayor Michael Rama, MCWD, Metro Cebu, water
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