MAYNILAD OVERCHARGED BY P3.3-BILLION -- SOLONSQuezon City, May 7, 2003 -- The Lopez-owned Maynilad Water Services Inc. (MWSI) has also overcharged its customers by as much as P3.3 billion from January to March this year, according to congressmen who wanted the utility firm to reimburse the amount to water consumers in the west zone. Reps. Mario Aguja (Akbayan) and Joel Villanueva (CIBAC) yesterday said that Maynilad overcharged its consumers through the accelerated extraordinary price adjustment (AEPA) and the foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA). Aguja said the water concessionaire continued to charge consumers P4.21 per cubic meter of AEPA despite the provision in the contract allowing it to impose the charge only up to December 2002. He said the water firm also collected P4.07 per cubic meter of FCDA even if it has failed to remit to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) its concession fees amounting to P5 billion. Aguja said Maynilad should have stopped charging the AEPA and FCDA in its monthly billings for lack of justification. The AEPA was supposed to cover concession fees while the FCDA was meant to recover foreign exchange losses. These were all designed to help Maynilad fulfill its obligations when it took over the operation from MWSS. Maynilad covers the west zone of the water concession which included parts of Quezon City, Mandaluyong, Makati, Manila, Parañaque and its surrounding environs. Villanueva said the total amount collected by Maynilad from its customers could reach a staggering P4 billion if the April billings would be included. He said the water utility firm should be ordered by the MWSS to immediately return the overcharged amount. Maynilad President Rafael Alunan called the charges as "false and inaccurate." "Maglabasan na lang po tayo ng datos sa public hearing nang mapatunayan natin kung sino ba ang nagsisinungaling at nagsasabi ng totoo," Villanueva said. Villanueva urged the House committees on economic affairs and on government enterprises and privatization to look into the matter and recommend appropriate measures.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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