COA flags over ₱800 million MWSS collections from water companies

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 23) — The Commission on Audit (COA) said the over ₱800 million collected by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) from water concessionaires were excessive and would lead to additional burden to consumers.

In its annual audit report, state auditors said the MWSS collected ₱845.71 million from Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. Inc. from 2019 to 2022 which exceeded the limits under their concession agreements.

“MWSS billed and collected the actual share of the two concessionaires for the costs and expenses relative to the implementation of the New Centennial Water Source - Kaliwa Dam Project (NCWS - KDP) and for the salaries and wages of the Bantay Gubat and other expenses relative to the implementation of the Ipo Watershed Development Program,” the COA explained.

In 2022, the MWSS collected over ₱310 million from both water firms for the standby cost of the Kaliwa Dam Project.

The commission said it wrote a letter dated May 26, 2023 to the Department of Finance (DOF) to clarify the matter. In its response on June 26, the Finance department said the MWSS is allowed to collect fees pursuant to their concession agreements.

However, the absence of approval of the DOF for the billings and collections of additional local counterpart funds from the concessionaires made these unauthorized.

This “will result to irregular expenditures of the Concession which will be recovered from the consuming public through tariffs,” the COA said.

The COA recommends to the MWSS management services group to suspend the collections unless there is approval from the DOF.