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Expropriation, option for buy-back move
« on: January 18, 2017, 03:52:16 PM »
WATER, LIGHT UTILITIES
Expropriation, option for buy-back move
Published: December 17, 2006 by The Bohol Standard

HOPING to retake total ownership of the water and power utilities, Capitol leaders are eyeing for a possible tie-up with city authorities in the buy-back attempt.

Provincial Legal officer Atty. Handel Lagunay said Friday that if the parties (SALCON and the provincial government) in the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) won’t come to terms for the buy-back plan, expropriation proceedings can be an alternative option.

The provincial government still owns 30% minority shares in the new joint venture initiative and was promised dividends in the profits of operating the Bohol Water Utilities Incorporated (BWUI) and Bohol Light Company Incorporated (BLCI), twin utilities under the SALCON Group of Companies.

But before Capitol could get its shares and after the JV consumers have enjoyed flat rates for the past decade, a recent proposal to raise the water rate to 40.79% has stirred public concern over the inappropriateness of the move.

Earlier, BWUI has petitioned for the raise from the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), which the government agency approved for implementation December 5.

Seeking temporary relief on the implementation, Tagbilaran City, represented by Mayor Dan Lim succeeded in getting a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for the water rate hike’s effectivity.

The Provincial legislators, owing to a conflict in schedule was also supposed to simultaneously petition for a TRO, but failed when it could not constitute a quorum in a session timed for a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for lawyer members, said lawyer Handel Lagunay.

With the TRO, Capitol legal Officer Lagunay said they are planning for their next move, an intra-corporate complaint questioning the NWRB nod on the BWUI rate increase at the Regional Trial Courts here.

Lagunay, speaking at the weekly Governor’s Report said the BWUI petition was not decided by the Board, which should have included Capitol representatives.

NWRB dismissed in a decision September 20 the water rate hike increase opposition even as the city residents represented by lawyer councilors were denied the chances of reclaiming a forfeited right to cross-examine BWUI witnesses.

Without the TRO, the water rake hike pushes in P8.12 per cu. Meter for a minimum consumer of less than 10 cu. M. and some P31.50 per cu.m on consumers using more than 30 cu m.

In granting the BWUI request, NWRB noted that the Tagbilaran water utility server has charged way below the allowable 12% profitability limits for public utilities to start getting operational profits.

In separate information leaked to the media, sources privy to the JV said it is losing an average of 4.24% annually, as the company focused on improving operations and lessening generation losses. (rachiu/PIA)

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