Baciwa Board nixes joint venture plan

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BACOLOD City – Bacolod City Water District’s (Baciwa) Board of Directors rejected the proposed joint venture with MetroPac Water Investments Corp.
It heeded the recommendation of the water district’s ad hoc committee, Director David Villanueva told Panay News.
In September, MetroPac pitched the plan to work with Baciwa in rehabilitating the latter’s distribution lines under a build-operate-transfer scheme for 30 years.
The “unsolicited proposal” — perceived to be an attempt at privatizing the water district — has been widely opposed.
MetroPac may eventually take over the water district, and this will lead to higher water rates, the Employees’ Union said.
The Utility Consumers Alliance of Negros, on the other hand, feared privatization would expose concessionaries to profiteering.
In a joint position paper, the Employees’ Union and the National Federation of Labor Unions called the proposal “a thinly veiled bid to privatize the water district.”
Ramon Lopez, secretary of Metro Bacolod Consumers Forum (MBCF), said they believe the bulk water supply project Baciwa entered into with the consortium Bacolod Bulk Water, Inc. is enough to solve the supply shortage.
MBCF vice president Rodolfo Maligmat said they also support the position of the Employees’ Union and the UCAN.
According to Villanueva, the Board based its Nov. 11 decision on the recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority-mandated ad hoc committee, which comprised the following:
* Assistant General Manager for Administration Samuel Penado – chairperson
* Assistant General Manager for Operation Jennelyn Gemora – vice chairperson
* Christine Polanas (finance), Diana Peitan (legal), Gino Amantillo and Rommel Paredes (technical), and Claudio Salmo and Joevanie Padilla (employees union) – members
MetroPac has clarified the proposed joint venture will not lead to privatization.
“This will be a joint venture between our company and Baciwa. We will not take over the management,” Business Development Manager Jonet Sanalilas said in September.
But that did not work. In October, Gemora said MetroPac’s proposal did not have substantive information, particularly on financial and legal arrangements.
Salmo, the Employees’ Union president, said they cited an Office of the Government Corporate Counsel opinion that the proposal “lacked due diligence and feasibility study.”
Villanueva told Panay News the water district will come up with its own guidelines on joint ventures, which potential partners may refer to.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod — led by Councilor Dindo Ramos, chairman of the committee on communications and energy — also held an inquiry into the proposal.
Based on comments and suggestions from directors, former officials, consumers, and UCAN representatives present at the inquiry, Baciwa is capable of addressing the problems it faces on its own, said Ramos.
Director Lorendo Dilag suggested that Baciwa acquire a loan for the rehabilitation of its facilities and have its engineers supervise the project./PN




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