AYALA-CONTROLLED Manila Water Co., Inc. has completed its discussions with the government on a “new and better” water concession contract, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told reporters Thursday.

“The agreement is expected to be signed within this month,” he added.

Details of the contract revision cannot be disclosed “until the new agreement has been executed,” Mr. Guevarra said in a mobile message.

“One thing (is) sure, though: it’s fair and equitable, transparent, fosters better governance, and reduces government liability,” he added.

In November, President Duterte tasked the Department of Justice (DoJ) to revise the concession contracts of Metro Manila’s two water providers, Manila Water Co., Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

According to Mr. Guevarra, negotiations were actually led by the Department of Finance.

The President’s directive to the DoJ follows an international arbitral ruling that the government must pay Maynilad P3.4 billion and Manila Water P7.4 billion for losses incurred after the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System rejected their request for an increase in water rates.

The two companies opted not to enforce the award, and agreed to review the terms of their concession agreements.

Mr. Guevarra also said negotiations with Maynilad will start soon. — Bianca Angelica A. Añago