BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. will impose a 12 percent value-added tax by November this year that Bacolod City Water District general manager Michael Soliva said “is part of business”.
The Villar-owned company and Baciwa have a 25-year Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) that includes an infusion of P6.8 billion in terms of projects for the water utility firm.
Soliva clarified that it is not Baciwa that will impose the VAT but PrimeWater since it is a private company.
Asked if there is a water rate increase, he said, probably next year.
Soliva also said that before any increase is implemented, the Local Water Utilities Administration will need to scrutinize the application before approval.
Baciwa said in its website that the last water rate increase it had implemented was back in 2009 yet, adding that, currently, the bulk or wholesale of the firm is at P24.85 per cubic meter.
Leny Espina, president of the Baciwa Employees’ Union, said they are opposed to the proposed VAT imposition, as they are also consumers of the firm.
Espina and 59 other employees of Baciwa were terminated in January this year for redundancy of position. They have already filed an appeal before the Civil Service Commission for their reinstatement.
The terminated employees staged a noise barrage and protest outside the Baciwa office at Galo-Street in Bacolod yesterday, and stressed that consumers need better service and not the privatization of the firm.
Espina said the Joint Venture Selection Committee members should have ensured that the consumers will not be on the losing end before the agreement pushed through. Unfortunately, all five of them are no longer with Baciwa as they have availed of early retirement package, she added.
Almost two months after they were terminated, she said many of them are still having a hard time meeting their daily needs.
Espina said they refused to process their clearances because they believe that they should be reinstated.
On Dec. 29, Soliva issued Office Order No. 2020-081 and informed the affected employees that they have been terminated and will only work until Dec. 31. The employees were given an option to apply for employment with PrimeWater but they refused. Baciwa also offered them an early retirement incentive plan but they did not agree to it.*