By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

MAYNILAD Water Services, Inc. on Tuesday said it won’t increase rates next year to help ease the economic burden felt by its customers amid a coronavirus pandemic.

“With this deferral, Maynilad hopes to alleviate the day-to-day struggles of its customers as they and the whole country strive to recover from adversity and rise stronger than before,” Metro Manila’s west zone water provider said in a statement.

Maynilad said it would waive the rate increases it was qualified to enforce in 2021, such as the next tranche of the approved rate rebasing adjustment and the mandated rise based on inflation.

Rate rebasing is held every five years and allows water providers such as Maynilad to recover their operating, capital maintenance and investment expenses.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Regulatory Office had approved an increase of P1.95 per cubic meter (cu.m.) in the company’s basic charge for next year, according to Maynilad Corporate Communications head Jennifer C. Rufo.

The increase would have been the third tranche in the staggered implementation of the adjustment approved for the 2018 to 2022 rebasing period, she said in a mobile phone message.

“The second tranche for the implementation of approved adjustment this year was also deferred,” Ms. Rufo said.

Both Maynilad and Manila Water Co., Inc., which provides water to the capital region’s east zone, waived the next tranche of yearly rate increases for 2020 after President Rodrigo R. Duterte criticized them for what he called were onerous contracts with the government.

Under the rate rebasing period from 2018 to 2022, Maynilad was allowed to increase rates by P5.73 per cu.m., to be enforced in tranches.

Ms. Rufo said the inflation adjustment for 2021 is 2.7% of the basic charge, equivalent to a P1.03 per cu.m. increase. Maynilad serves about 9.8 million customers in its concession area, she said.

Maynilad provides water to areas in the west zone of the National Capital Region such as Caloocan, Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, Navotas, Malabon, Manila, Makati and Quezon City, as well as parts of Cavite province including Bacoor, Imus, Kawit, Noveleta and Rosario.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.