THE Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) has expressed its opposition against the proposed water price hike of Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD).
CCCI said with the pandemic, businesses, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) are already burdened by increasing operability costs.
“At a time when the country and the Cebuanos are reeling from one of the worst pandemic-induced recessions, a price increase on indisputably the most important commodity on earth –water, is insensitive, imprudent, unconscionable and irresponsible. All the more, the proposed price increase of P300 for every 10 cubic meters of water is glaring, exorbitant and preposterous – even if backed up by plans to invest in desalination,” Felix Taguiam, CCCI president, said in the chamber’s position paper.
MCWD has received an unsolicited offer from FDC Utilities Inc., a subsidiary of Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC), to build desalination plants in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu that can supply a total of 89 million liters per day. MCWD has put the FDC Utilities proposal on Swiss Challenge, giving other companies 60 days from May 19, 2021 to counter the offer.
But when MCWD operates desalination plants, it would mean an increase of P70 to P120 per cubic meters.
The increase means that from the current rate of P180 per 10 cubic meters, Cebu’s water rates could go up to as much as P300 for every 10 cubic meters of water.
CCCI cited that in the last two decades, prices of almost all the essential commodities have been increasing at an alarming rate.
The soaring basic commodity prices means that families are forced to cut back on the quantity or quality of their food and change consumption patterns as a higher share of the family income goes to food and paying bills for essential commodities such as water, the chamber said.
An increasing trend of inflation also presents serious risks towards food, hygiene, living standards and nutrition situation of people in the marginalized sector.
In addition, CCCI said business enterprises, most especially the MSMEs are further burdened amidst the economic crisis brought about by the debilitating and crippling global pandemic.
The chamber said even during the pre-pandemic era, Cebu business competitiveness decreased significantly from being third in the country in 2015 to a record 25th in 2018 substantiated further with the results of the CCCI’s July 2019 Report entitled “Shared Ambisyon: Driving Cebu Competitiveness to the Next Level” commissioned to PricewaterhouseCoopers PWC/ Isla Lipana & Co.
The report revealed the high cost of utilities including water as among the top three obstacles to success of business and Cebu as a whole.
“Ultimately, ill-conceived and ill-timed decisions and actions on water supply prices will invariably affect the financial security of the most vulnerable sectors of the community which is aggravating and can lead to unrest during these uncertain times. We are certain MCWD does not want to be a contributing entity and held responsible for such possibilities,” Taguiam said. (JOB)