Public lecture presented by Mr Virgilio “Perry” Rivera Jr, Chief Operating Officer- New Business, Manila Water Company, the Philippines.
Resolving an urban water crisis through public-private sector reform: Lessons for Australia from the Philippines
Australian utilities will find this case study from the Philippines an intriguing insight into how a dysfunctional and damaged water system was repaired and restructured with significant health, equality and service outcomes.
Prior to 1997, downtown Manila suffered from insufficient infrastructure and environmental deterioration, accelerated by rapid population increase. Twenty-four-hour water supply was only available to a quarter of the population, mainly due to leakages often caused by meter tampering and illegal connections. This caused a domino effect of problems, including water contamination and water-borne diseases. Water system losses reached a record high of 63 percent. This prompted the Philippine government to enact the National Water Crisis Act, which triggered the government-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System to enter into Public Private Partnerships (PPP).
Ayala Corporation-led Manila Water Company took over the East Zone of metropolitan Manila under a concession agreement that granted the company exclusive rights to provide water and used water services. Manila Water replaced kilometres of pipes, expanded service connections, increased service availability, and reduced water losses from 63% in 1997 to 11% in 2014. This was supplemented by corporate cultural transformation and development of its workforce. Manila Water’s community program, ‘Water for the Poor', has also enabled low-income communities to have continuous and reliable access to water.
Since then, Manila Water has expanded its business operations in strategic economic expansion of metropolitan Manila, and utilized the same PPP model to support sustainable tourism developments in Boracay Island and to address the water crisis in the Province of Cebu. Manila Water has also established management contracts and investments in the Asia-Pacific Region, particularly in Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia.
About the speaker:
Mr Virgilio “Perry” Rivera, Jr. is the Managing Director of Ayala Corporation, one of the Philippines’ oldest and largest conglomerates. He is seconded to Manila Water Company, Inc. as Chief Operating Officer for New Business. During the past 17 years at Manila Water, Perry has acquired extensive experience in water PPPs and successfully managed price reviews. He is also responsible for growing the business of Manila Water outside the east zone of Metro Manila as well as in the Asian region including Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar. Perry holds university degrees in Economics and Behavioural Science from the University of Santo Tomas, and has completed the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School. His book on Manila Water, Tap Secrets: The Manila Water Story: An Exercise in Successful Utility Reform in Urban Water Sector, was published by the Asian Development Bank in 2014.