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Manila Water, Cebu government move closer to supply deal

Saturday, January 31, 2009 [ ]

MANILA Water Co. Inc. said its subsidiary entered into a memorandum of understanding with the provincial government of Cebu for a possible water supply deal.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Manila Water said Northern Waterworks and Rivers of Cebu Inc. (NWRC) will look into the feasibility of supplying bulk water to the province from the Luyang River in the town of Carmen of the same province.

“We hope that with this project, we can help provide a solution to the province’s twin challenges of dwindling water supply and deteriorating water quality,” Antonino Aquino, NWRC chairman and Manila Water president said.

Gov. Gwendolym Garcia of Cebu said the agreement is in line with the government’s program to improve the quality of life of Cebuanos and maximize the province’s potential as a major tourist and investment destination in the country.

NWRC is a consortium composed of Manila Water, real-estate developer Stateland Inc., and the Gaisano-owned Vicsal Inc.

Earlier this month, Manila Water said its capital expenditure program for the year will be affected by the delay in the tariff hike it is seeking from regulators.

Luis Juan Oreta, Manila Water chief finance officer, said the delay would affect investments in wastewater treatment in its concession area.

Manila Water failed to get the approval of the Regulatory Office of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) for an increase in rates by more than 25 percent to P6.90 per cubic meter.

The proposed increase includes the expanded value-added tax, environmental and sewerage charges, and foreign currency adjustment fees.

But despite the failure to secure regulatory approval for its rate hike, Manila Water had said it would venture into one of the cities of the world’s most populated country.

The company plans to put up a wastewater treatment facility in a small city in China, as the cost of the venture would start at $20 million.

Oreta said Manila Water is scouting for a partner for its investment in China, adding the company is already in talks with government agencies.

Last year, the company secured a five-year contract from Saigon Water Corp. for a performance-based leakage reduction and management services in Ho Chi Minh City.-- Chino S. Leyco


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