By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy
There has been little information about the deliberations of the Joint Venture Selection Committee, one of the reasons that people are left without a choice but to speculate. It is normal to oppose what one does know and fear.
The opposition released a consolidated list of the observations of those who attended the meetings of the committee. This means that the deliberations were not secret at all within the water district but there must have been instructions to keep what they hear among themselves. But when confidential matters are deemed to work against public welfare or the common good, the chances of the information being leaked to the public are very high.
So, at this stage of this controversy when things begin to clear and the facts run counter to group welfare, the employees consolidated their observations and released them to the public first surreptitiously and now it is full-blown in media.
This is the first time that a written “report” is made by those who are against this venture that they consider is really a “privatization.” The public has now the opportunity to determine whether indeed the joint venture is advantageous or disadvantageous only to the affected employees of the water district. Here are the main observations:
- The alleged “specific objectives” in the joint venture were stated in general terms which of course belie the claims of the Committee that they understood what their objectives are. The opposition defined these “general terms” as immeasurable, without a time frame and incomplete in the sense that they do not clearly state the means to protect the interests of the employees and the government. We know that unless the objectives were stated specifically, they cannot be measured as to whether these purposes were achieved or not and therefore responsibility is difficult to determine.
- While there is a report that the JVSC has already issued a Certificate of Successful Negotiation, the opponents claim that there really were no thorough discussions of the draft nor was the draft adopted as final. Are we seeing a lutong macaoin this deal? Of course, in many government transactions, this system is as common as the sari-sari stores dotting the city landscape but if this were so then the deal is opening itself to challenge. I wonder, however, can this be possible when there have been reported lots of meetings and even trips outside the city to back up the claims of Prime Water? Were those meetings mere façade or pretense just to comply with the requirements of the law, enjoy the day off from work and travel and collect per diems?
- Here is another point – “Prime Water is allowed to change its business plans for Baciwa’s approval”. The revision is permitted in case there is a “delay or non-approval of tariff adjustment”. Does this mean that the projections are fuzzy and may or may not be realized on time? Is this what we call “palagpat”? Well, that may be true if the whole thing was just an Indonesian shadow play.
The consumers should be concerned because the water rates can be increased to justify the added expenses of the joint venture. Surely the private partner would want to profit from this business. As of now, Baciwa has no partner to share its income although this can increase hopefully if Prime Water performed and achieved what it claims will be the fruits of the venture.
- Now here is something that needs clarification. According to the opposition, Prime Water is like an agent becauseBaciwa will be jointly and severally liable with Prime Water. But is this what the joint venture is all about – that both parties are liable in a similar manner that they share in the profits? The question I think is the sharing in the liability and the profit. To what extent is Baciwa’s liability and returns for Prime Water to use its facilities, name and existing invisible assets? This appears to have been ignored.
But no matter, Baciwa is as liable as is its partner in the venture unless there is a provision specifying the extent of liability or that Prime Water will absorb all liabilities since it will be in control. Baciwa officials and employees will be merely spectators and collectors of allowances and salaries as noted in the next opposition claim.
Let’s continue next week.*