• Senate panel looks into water agency budget allotment

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    BESIDES the pending Senate inquiry on the controversial agreement between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and its two water concessionaires that allowed them to pass on its income tax to consumers, the Senate finance committee will also be looking into the supposed huge allowances and perks being received its ranking officials.

    Sen. Francis Escudero, Chairman of the Senate Finance committee, that the MWSS budget is one of the items in the proposed 2014 national budget they want to look into because of the claims that current officers of the agency still enjoys hefty allowances.

    Escudero was referring to the claims made by the MWSS Labor Association (MLA) that the agency’s Board of Trustees are receiving P58,000 as allowance for attending meetings, on top of receiving P14,500 per diem compensation.

    Nap Quinones, vice president of the MLA lamented that while the officers of the MWSS continue to receive fat bonuses and other benefits, the rank-and-file employees on the other hand get smaller benefits because of the supposed directive issued by Gerardo Esquivel, MWSS administrator, reducing the benefits.

    Quinones also criticized the decision of Malacañang to grant Esquivel and three other members of the Board of trustees huge bonuses despite its much avowed prudence in government spending especially in government-owned and -controlled corporation
    (GOCCs).

    He added that, President Benigno Aquino 3rd might have been deceived into believing that MWSS through its newly appointed officials recorded an increase on its income on 2012.

    Quinones insisted that the almost P2-billion income in 2012 was mostly due to the peso appreciation.

    MWSS, Quinones said, earned almost P1.4 billion in foreign exchange last year but it is because of the appreciation of the peso and it has nothing to do with performance of the current officers of the MWSS.

    The increase in the income is also because of interest in investment and deposits, progress billing coming from contractors and the concessionaires and other miscellaneous income.

    But despite of the increase in income, little had changed in the amount spent on the salaries of employees worst, many of the benefits were taken away from the regular employees.

    Escudero said that although the budget of the MWSS doesn’t come from the government, but from the fees paid by its concessionaires, there is still the need for congress to scrutinize it and make sure that it’s free from possible abuse.

    Jefferson Antiporda

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