BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
The employees’ union of the Bacolod City Water District claimed that the 12 percent value-added tax on water rates will be immediately imposed on the first day that the joint venture between Baciwa and PrimeWater takes effect on November 1.
The union said the claims of the Baciwa board that there will be no irresponsible or indiscriminate increase in water rates under the joint venture agreement (JVA) are misleading and utter lies.
In a statement, the union said that in the first year of the JVA, the VAT will be absorbed by PrimeWater, and consumers will begin shouldering the VAT in 2021, which it added is a clear burden to the people.
The employees also claimed that no public hearing was conducted to explain the joint venture, including the imposition of VAT.
This is in violation of Section 63F of Presidential Decree No. 198, or the charter of water districts, since the VAT is an increase in the basic tariff, therefore a public hearing is required before it can be imposed, they added.
Further, these tariff adjustments are meant to ensure that PrimeWater will be able to recover all its investments in the joint venture project, including the enormous gratuities and financial assistance to retiring Baciwa employees, the union claimed.
They urged the consumers and the officials of the city to investigate the matter, and called for the deferment in the implementation of the joint venture, until the issue on water tariffs is explained to the public and all requirements of the Local Water Utilities Administration are followed.*