The Freedom from Debt Coalition condemns the impending water rates increases of P7.00 and P2.18 per cubic meter for West Zone and East Zone consumers respectively.

It is ironic that Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave her go signal for the rate hike at the most un-merry season when the country is in the middle of a fiscal crisis. Almost all prices of foodstuff as well as electricity rates have increased and will continue to do so.

This new round of increases, which will take effect in 2005, is unjustifiable.

It is asking consumers to shoulder the costs of rehabilitating a water company gone bankrupt because of its own fault. Maynilad consumers will be forced to pay additional P7.00 per cubic meter so that the company can recover what it lost due to gross inefficiency and mismanagement.

Manila Water on the other hand, will shamelessly hike its rates to P17.83 per cubic meter despite indulging in super-profits. A Commission on Audit report reveals that the Ayalas enjoyed a 40.92% return on rate base when the Constitution only allows a 12% profit ceiling for public utilities.

Where is the affordability assured in 1997 by the government and the World Bank-International Finance Corporation—the proponents of the MWSS privatization? After only seven years, Maynilad will post a 544% increase in rates and Manila Water 769%. How could the concessionaires and the Philippine government turn their back on their promise of no significant rates increase within 10 years of privatization? The irony of accelerating rates increases is that consumers are paying too much for poor water and sanitation services.

Tama na! Sobra na! (Enough is enough!)

We, from the Freedom from Debt Coalition, condemn the government’s subservience to vested private and business interests!

We condemn Mrs. Arroyo’s lack of regard for the plight of poor consumers already reeling under high power rates and increasing prices of food and foodstuff!

We say NO to unjustified water rates increases!

We denounce profit-driven water privatization designed and systematically pushed by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation!

STOP WATER RATES INCREASES!

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