Monday, March 12, 2018
BACOLOD City – The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) is seeking the opinion of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) on the proposed P13 increase in the maintenance fee of the Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa).
It approved Councilor Dindo Ramos’ authored resolution addressed to LWUA administrator Jeci Lapus asking about the “propriety and legality” of the “almost 700-percent [fee] increase.”
The Baciwa Board on Jan. 12 approved Resolution No. 009, which raised the water district’s Meter Repair and Maintenance Fee, now named the Service Connection and Maintenance Fee, from P2 to P15.
Baciwa general manager Juliana Carbon issued a notice on Jan. 16 informing the water district’s concessionaires about the fee increase, which was supposed to take effect last month.
But it has received opposition from a local consumer group and some members of the SP.
Secretary-general Wennie Sancho of Water Watch called the P13 increase “grossly disadvantageous to consumers.” He had demanded justification from Baciwa.
For his part, Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. filed a proposed resolution also seeking from Baciwa an explanation on the fee increase.
But Gamboa took back his proposal during an SP hearing in January when Ramos proposed a legislative inquiry into the issue.
The Jan. 30 legislative inquiry, however, did not put an end on the matter because of the nonattendance of LWUA representatives.
Due to this, the SP passed a resolution requesting Baciwa to seek LWUA’s approval on the fee increase, prompting the water district to put on hold the implementation.
Mona DiaJardin, one of the Baciwa directors, said on March 1 that they unanimously approved a resolution on Feb. 27 temporarily suspending the fee increase pending LWUA’s opinion.
Jardin earlier said before they approved Resolution No. 009, they asked the Baciwa management if the fee hike needs approval from LWUA.
The management said no, she stressed. Jardin added that the management advised them that only a resolution is needed for the fee hike.
Aside from LWUA’s approval, Ramos said the fee increase has “not satisfied the requirement of public consultation.”
“The almost 700-percent increase [in the maintenance fee] is a continuous economic imposition every month which consumers will shoulder regardless of their water consumption,” Ramos added. “The increase shall pass through the scrutiny and approval of the government regulatory agency prior to its imposition.”/PN