A COMPANY owned by billionaire tycoon Enrique Razon is also eyeing to invest in the bulk water project of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said Monday, February 20.

Lacson said that executives of the Razon-owned firm met with Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II last week.

First to signify their interest in the public-private partnership (PPP) project is Aboitiz InfraCapital, which made a presentation to Lacson and Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez early this month.

The firm said they are investing P2.8 billion in the project, which will take two to three years to complete.

They will submit their unsolicited proposal within the month of February.

"So far, we have two investors interested in our bulk water project. We will know how many companies are interested if there is already a call for bidding," Lacson said.

The governor, meanwhile, said that the decision of the Bacolod City Water District (BACIWA) not to join in the bulk water project of the provincial government does not help them at all.

"We have to find ways to convince investors to come in," he said, adding that they may include the local government units of Victorias City and EB Magalona.

He said investors want a return on investment (ROI).

"Maybe BACIWA is confident with their suppliers, four years down the line. This project we are proposing will not happen next month or next year. It will be operational maybe four years from now.

And that is what those interested companies are saying. If BACIWA said that their sources are available, then that's their reason. On our part, we made it clear that Bacolod is integral to these

projects because the volume needed in Bacolod is far bigger than the rest," he pointed out.

He reiterated that they have to find ways to make the project attractive, even if Bacolod is not around.

"It is challenging," Lacson said.

He also said that if, after four years, BACIWA still needs the bulk water project, the proponents would be very happy.

"They always consider Bacolod a major taker of their water. We will entertain them. But we also have to assure companies that invest here of their profitability. So they will be coming back," Lacson said.

BACIWA, as revealed by Benitez in a separate press conference Monday at the Bacolod New Government Center, told him that they have three proponents that will be providing bulk water supply.

Benitez said he has been receiving proposals for bulk water supply from several groups.*