Press Release
January 21, 2019

Angara proposes one-time condonation to help financially-strapped local water districts

Sen. Sonny Angara is pushing for local water districts to be granted a one-time general amnesty or condonation of unpaid taxes to allow them to use their savings to improve their services and prevent any increase in water rate charges.

Introduced by Angara, Senate Bill No. 2136 otherwise known as the Condonation of Loan Interest Arrearages and Penalties in Favor of Local Water Districts Act of 2018, seeks to grant a one-time condonation of loan arrearages, interests and penalties assessed against local water districts (LWDs) relating to their late payment or non-payment of loan amortizations to the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

According to Angara, the past few years had seen a number of LWDs not able to make the necessary loan amortizations to the LWUA on time due to lack of funds which resulted in substantial loan arrearages, interests and penalties.

"If these arrearages are to be paid, a number of LWDs would be faced with the difficult choice of recovering the substantial loss either by increasing the water rate charged to their clients or by contracting new loans from LWUA. Either way, the quality of services offered by LWDs will be hampered," Angara said.

Under the proposed measure, it will be the task of LWUA to update the list of LWDs which qualify for the one-time condonation. LWDs qualified for the one-time condonation shall be those which do not have enough funds to pay their loan amortizations on time.

The measure also states that LWDs that have availed of and benefited from the condonation shall no longer be qualified for another condonation of a similar nature in the future.

"A one-time condonation is necessary to give LWDs a chance to use any savings they have to improve or expand their services, or to prevent any increase in water rate charges," Angara said.

Presidential Decree No. 198 or the Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973 declared the creation, operation, maintenance and expansion of reliable and economically viable and sound water supply and wastewater disposal system in the country as an objective of national policy of high priority. It also created the LWUA, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) with a specialized lending function mandated to promote and oversee the development of water supply systems in provincial cities and municipalities outside of Metropolitan Manila.

LWDs, for their part, were created when Presidential Decree No. 18, known as the "Provincial Water Utilities Act of 1973," was enacted into law to ensure that Filipinos in the countryside have access to safe and potable water.

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