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Aboitiz fails again in bid to undertake water project in Cebu

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The Aboitiz Group has again failed in its bid to undertake a project aimed at augmenting Metro Cebu’s water supply.

A newspaper report said the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) board of directors has terminated the unsolicited proposal of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

The two companies sought to construct a 100 million liters per day (MLD) desalination plant in Lapu-Lapu City.

Resigned MCWD chairman Joel Mari S. Yu, a former top executive of Aboitiz Group’s holding company Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV), earlier said the proposed project was not approved because of four unacceptable provisions.

One of these unacceptable provisions wass the price quoted by Aboitiz and MPIC, which MCWD deemed too high at P80 per cubic meter plus value-added tax.

Yu had said that apart from the Mananga dam project, which has been delayed for about two decades, the desalination projects are seen as the immediate solution to Cebu’s lack of water.

It was the second time that the Aboitiz Group proposed to undertake a water development project for MCWD.

In the late 90s, AEV and French conglomerate Vivendi proposed a P9.2-billion project that will rehabilitate and improve the water distribution system of MCWD.

The proposal was submitted in January 1999, when Yu was still vice president of AEV.

The project was supposed to involve the rehabilitation of the water distribution system with the aim of reducing non-revenue water (NRW) to 15% as well as expand the coverage area of MCWD to 75% of the population in its franchise area.

The project, however, did not get the nod of the National Economic and Development Authority Investment Coordination Committee, which returned the proposal to MCWD for revision of the contract arrangement.

In May 2002, AEV dropped its unsolicited proposal because of the delay and declared that it will focus on its core businesses in power and banking. Efforts to privatize MCWD were also stalled.

"Nothing is happening in MCWD. There is no privatization. We have to focus on what we do best,” the late Jon Ramon Aboitiz, then AEV president and CEO, had said. (Ventures Cebu)

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