An increase of 30 percent in water rates for residential consumers in order to sustain its operations is being proposed by the Bacolod City Water District.
BACIWA general manager Juliana Carbon yesterday said they are allowed an increase of 60 percent, but have settled for only 30 percent. She said they have proposed a rate increase for eight years but the Local Water Utilities Administration usually approves only three years.
Their proposal will go through the process required by law and by the LWUA, Carbon said. One requirement is the conduct of a public hearing which they have scheduled on June 9 from 3-5 p.m. at the Negros Occidental Multi Purpose Gym, she said.
This will also go through the board of directors and the Water Rates Evaluation Division of LWUA which will determine if the proposed rates increase is justifiable, adequate, affordable, equitable, she added.
Carbon also said they will only implement the increase after it has been approved by LWUA.
Roberto Quebrar, Property and Supplies Division head, said Baciwa has not implemented a rate increase since 2003 and is the last one to have an increase.
Carbon said that there comes a time in the life of a water district when there is a need to increase rates.
“Our means of sustaining our operations is dependent on what the consumers pay. We have realized that they have been absorbing so many costs from 2005-2008,” she said.
Carbon said they have implemented two salary increases mandated by government, the prices of fuel and power have also increased, and they started to pay their amortization with LWUA last year.
“If we cannot sustain it from the present rates we need to adjust our water rates to be able to cope,” she said.
She also said most of their water system are deepwells, some are 19 years old and need to be rehabilitated or replaced with new ones to be able to provide water.
These require funds and could not be sustained by the present water rates, Carbon said. They also need to tap surface water to prepare for the demand in the future, she said.
If they have excess revenues from the water rates they can put up a building since the present facility is 37 years old and it is already very inconvenient for the paying consumers, she said.
Meanwhile, Carbon said Senator Panfilo Lacson is proposing Senate Bill No. 3152, a bill requesting for the exemption of water districts from paying income tax.
She said they are thankful to Lacson for this initiative which will help water utilities since the money they are supposed to pay for income tax will go to direct services for the consumers.
Carbon said a consultative meeting with all the water districts will be held on May 29 at Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City since there are some from the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Finance who are opposing the proposed bill.
They claim that government will lose millions of pesos in revenues if the bill is passed, she said.*CGS