CSF water district under Prime Water to charge VAT, hike rates

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The Balibago Waterworks System, Inc. (BWSI) said the unchallenged proposal of Prime Water (PW) for a joint venture management and operation of the City of San Fernando Water District (CSFWD) is simply unacceptable.

    “We cannot accept that this unchallenged proposal is in the best interest of the people of San Fernando,” the BWSI said in a statement.

    “By any standard, whether government or private institutions, this proposal having been unchallenged is a failure of bidding,” the statement added.

    Earlier, BWSI president Cristino “Tito” L. Panlilio warned that the CSFWD under PW will charge a 12 percent VAT to its concessionaires and increase its water rates up to 100 percent after only nine years under the joint venture.

    “How would the people feel losing their VAT exemption under the (PW) proposal? How would you feel absorbing a doubling of water rates without it being compared to any other proposal?” asked Panlilio.

    “These are the troubling effects of an unchallenged proposal,” he pointed out.

    Panlilio reiterated that the CSFWD should have opted for a “Competitive Selection” or public bidding instead of “Competitive Challenge” or Swiss challenge as per the guidelines of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

    He said five directors – Chairman Angelo “Loy” David, vice chair Fer Caylao, Tonette Orejas, Bener Alfana and Tess Tablante – cannot impose their will on the people of San Fernando by insisting on competitive selection and solely deciding on the joint venture with PW.

    Last week, the BWSI position was supported by a people’s complaint on the alleged irregularities it aired to the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP).

    Marilou Uban, who led a signature campaign against the joint venture, was also present and some of the signatories in the SP committee on public works hearing.

    Panlilio also said CSFWD cannot hold on to a mere opinion of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).

    “We want to verify the approvals on their chosen Joint Venture Proposal that they claim to have from the OGCC. We will either accept this or refute this alleged approval if we find them contrary to the applicable and established government guidelines, as well as what is beneficial to the people and the consumers,” the BWSI statement said further.

    Meanwhile, CSFWD officials were invited to the October 26 SP’s Public Works Committee hearing but they reportedly excused themselves from attending.

    “We are thankful that the esteemed councilors of this Committee are scheduling again another session for CSFWD, BWSI and representatives of the vigilant citizens of San Fernando, where we can confer and verify each other’s position, claims and allegations in this critical and vital controversy,” Panlilio said.

    He clarified that the BWSI is not asking for any special favor or vested privilege in trying to seek a remedy to the perceived irregularities of the CSFWD mode of bidding on their joint venture project.

    “All we request is for a rebidding exercise under a transparent, fair and applicable government guideline which is the Competitive Selection Mode. We may win or lose in this rebidding, but it is all worth it for it is the people of San Fernando who will be the ultimate beneficiary of this noble undertaking,” said Panlilio, a Fernandino.

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