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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, July 11, 2019
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Baciwa assures competitive
challenge vs. Prime Water
BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

 

Bacolod City Water District will not be privatized by entering into a joint venture agreement with Prime Water Inc. since it will remain under the advice and guidance of the Office of the Government Corporate Council, Baciwa chairman Lorendo Dilag said yesterday.

Dilag said they will conduct a bidding or competitive challenge about a month from now and will submit the offer of Prime Water Inc. even after it passedthe second stage of negotiation with Baciwa.

He said the Joint Venture Selection Committee (JVSC) will formulate the terms of reference thatwill include the plight of the more than 500Baciwa employees. Publication will be made so other interested bidders mayalso join the bidding.

Samuel Penado, Baciwa assistant general manager for administration, said that if no bidder has pre-qualified and only Prime Water Inc. remains, within two months after publication,it can be awarded the project since it is the original proponent.

Dilag said the proposed joint venture agreement is not permanent and will only last up to 25 years.

Jenelyn Gemora, Baciwa assistant general manager for operations, said Baciwa only partnered with a private company so it still has control over the water system. This is a strategic move to preserve Baciwa.

She said that since this is only a contractual joint venture, there is no sale of any asset of Baciwa. Therefore, Baciwa still owns all its assets since it only had the development and infusion of capitalization outsourced.

Gemora said that all assets to be acquired and improved by the private partner will be donated to Baciwa at no cost to the water utility firm at the end of the 25-yearjoint venture project.

Baciwa has about 57,000 concessionaires but only 54 percent of the total population of Bacolod are being served, she said.

With the public-private partnership (PPP) they envision to serve almost 92 to 95 percent of the total population of Bacolod by the end of the contract period, Gemora said.

Under the contract, the private partner is obliged to submit its key performance indicator. And at the end of the first year it promised to provide 24/7 water supply to Bacolod, she said.

Dilag said the joint venture with a private proponent aims to improve potable water availability to 24 hours, seven days a week, to install/construct additional transmission and distribution lines, replace/rehabilitate aging infrastructure and facilities, reduce non-revenue water to acceptable industry standards, among others

Gemora said employees of Baciwa who will not be included or retained in its contract monitoring unit,have two options, whether to be absorbed or to avail ofearly retirement incentive package offered by the private partner. So no one will be displaced.

Baciwa director Mona Dia Jardin said employees will receive bigger benefits and there will be no diminution of pay or benefits.

She said they are entering into a joint venture to improve the services of Baciwa which they cannot do on their own. Their problem is water source and the rehabilitation of its ageing pipelines, she said.

They need to keep pace with the development of Bacolod and they need finances to improve its service and the joint venture is an option for Baciwato deliver better service, she added.

Jardin said water rates will increase with or without PPP. If Prime Water Inc comes in, the rates will not increase until the third year, without the approval of the Baciwa Board and LWUA, and without a public hearing.

The Baciwa officials also denied that the negotiation is a done deal and that there are no other interested bidders, during a press conference they called to clarify issues involving the joint venture agreement with Prime Water Inc.*

 

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