COA flags 38 water district deals with Primewater for violations

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    THE Commission on Audit (COA) has raised questions on 38 joint venture agreements (JVAs) signed by various local water districts (WDs) with private firm Primewater Infrastructure Corporation ranging as far north as Aparri, Cagayan all the way to Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

    Government auditors reported the deals did not comply with the guidelines and procedures set by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for JVAs, and various violations by the water districts and Primewater of the provisions of their respective agreements.

    The findings were contained in the 1,146-page 2019 Annual Financial Report (AFR) on Government Corporations/Water Districts Volume 2 released by the COA last January 11.

    Among the violations cited were failure by the water districts and the JVAs to disclose the details of how it will improve and maintain water supply and septage management, unfair or low estimate of the water districts’ contribution to the joint venture due to exclusion of various assets, ongoing or recently completed projects, and advance payment of obligations; and missing or lack of documents to support the income sharing scheme.

    In their reply to the audit findings, the management of the concerned local water districts assured the COA that its recommendations will be submitted to the consideration of the Board of Directors, particularly those involved in the settlement of disputes, compliance with the NEDA guidelines and submission of support documents.

    They likewise issued a commitment that Primewater will be notified of the deficiencies in the JVA noted by auditors in consultation with a legal counsel.

    Furthermore, the WDs Contract Monitoring Units were tasked to monitor Primewater’s performance and fulfillment of its obligations under the contract.

    Individual copies of agency’s AFR were submitted to the Office of the President, the office of the Senate President, and the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives last December 14.

    Listed in the report were the water districts of Aparri, Batangas City, Cabanatuan City, Camarines Norte, City of Ilagan, City of Malolos, City of San Fernando (Pampanga), Daraga, Dasmariñas, Floridablanca, Gerona, Guagua, Guiguinto, Iriga (Camarines Sur), Laguna, Lubao, Mabalacat City, Mapandan (Pangasinan), Marilao, Meycauayan, Orani, Pozorrubio, Rosales, San Ildefonso, San Pedro, San Rafael (Bulacan), Santa Cruz (Laguna), Silang, Sorsogon City, Subic, Tanauan, Tarlac City and Urdaneta City. All these water districts are located in Luzon.

    In Visayas, those that made the COA list were the WDs of Numancia (Aklan), Metro Hilongos (Leyte), Maasin (Leyte), Himamaylan (Negros Occidental).

    From Mindanao, it was only the Zamboanga City Water District that was covered by the audit finding.