MCWD contradicts claim of PrimeWater that they do not seek to privatize the utility firm
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) has contradicted the claim of PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp. that their public-private partnership offer was limited to the joint development of water distribution and supply systems through joint ventures and not the privatization of the utility firm.
It said that the proposal that PrimeWater presented to MCWD “involves a complete transfer of management, operation, billing, and collection of water services, which are the core functions of the water district.”
“During the presentation before the Board of Directors (BOD), their representative specified that the water district would only have five powers/functions: strategic planning, business policy setting, asset management supervision, tariff setting, performance review and monitoring, and customer relations,” the water district said in a statement that was released on Tuesday afternoon, June 27.
“However, the BOD has expressed concerns about the legality of the proposal, as joint ventures typically do not involve the transfer of management or day-to-day operations and maintenance of the water district,” it added.
CDN Digital is yet to secure PrimeWater’s response on this latest development. The company has not released any statement on the matter as of this writing.
The Villar group-owned PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp. was dragged in the word war involving Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and the MCWD officials following reports on the allege plan to ‘privatize’ the water district.
In a statement released on Saturday, it said that “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 that they do not have any personal interest in MCWD. They were merely offering their services to the water district as they continue to look for possible local partners.
MCWD said in a statement released on Tuesday that this kind of an arrangement may be true to other government agencies, but not with them.
The utility firm insisted that a PrimeWater representative met with MCWD officials and even mentioned of continuous job security for their employees should the management transfer push through.
“When questioned about the job security of the employees, their representative stated that the employees may choose whether or not to stay, and it is not mandatory for them to be absorbed,” MCWD said.
“They also discussed the retirement packages for employees who would not be absorbed, as well as the transfer of the majority of employees from government service to private employment,” it added.
MCWD said all of these discussions were recorded and were made part of the minutes of the board meeting held on February 17, 2023.
Privatization initiatives and politics were among the reasons cited by MCWD chairman Jose Daluz III as to why Mayor Rama wanted him ousted as MCWD chairman.
Daluz reportedly rejected the mayor’s bid to privatize MCWD, which Rama has outrightly denied.
City Hall responded by saying that MCWD was just trying to divert from the real issue, which was the alleged corrupt practices by members of the board of directors in the implementation of some of the desalination joint venture agreements with private proponents.
Last month, City Hall also named Engr. Miguelito Pato as the new MCWD chairman of the board “subject to legal formalities.” But Pato was yet to assume office.
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