YOU can’t blame President Duterte for blowing his top when he was told that the Ayala-owned Manila Water Co. Inc. had asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd to pay ASAP the P7.4 billion that an arbitration panel in Singapore had awarded the firm just two weeks ago.
The panel ordered the Philippine government to compensate the firm for the alleged losses it incurred from 2015 to 2018 from slashing the tariffs it charges its customers.
How the hell could that arbitration panel have ruled that way? How the hell could Manila Water allege that, when its own financial reports show that its net income from 2015 to 2018 totaled P25 billion. In fact, its average annual earnings in that period was P6.2 billion, increasing from the previous four years’ (2011 to 2014) P5.6 billion (See table).
In fact, Manila Water was so profitable that during those years that it claimed the government had been making it lose a lot of money, it paid out to its shareholders dividends of P7 billion. From 2006 to 2018, profits from the monopoly that was put in its owners’ banks totaled P16 billion. Manila Water has indeed been so profitable that its share prices have increased five times, from P6.2 in 2006 to P28 in 2018.
The two water concessionaires — Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services Inc. — have in fact been so profitable, or have been engaging in so much profit-seeking, that they have set up water distribution companies — which however are not monopolies — in other countries. Manila Water has operations in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, and Maynilad in two Vietnam provinces.
And Manila Water still wants to wrench another P7.4 billion in taxpayers’ money, ordered by a three-man panel of foreigners in Singapore, the country of the Ayalas’ biggest partner in Globe Telecom Inc., the Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. or Singtel?
If that’s not overflowing greed, I don’t know what is. Continue reading