Hundreds of thousands of people in Metro Manila and Rizal province still have no potable water.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the ongoing water crisis was the result of too many agencies managing the water situation.
“Now we have so many agencies dealing with water. It’s very conflicting. It’s just not been effective, and this is why we have a crisis now,” Pernia said in an interview with CNN Philippines Business Roundup.
Two companies handle the distribution of water for Metro Manila and Rizal: Manila Water is in charge of the east zone while Maynilad Water Services takes care of the west zone.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is the government agency oversees the operations of both water concessionaires, while the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) regulates all water-related activities in the country.
Pernia suggested the creation of a Department of Water to regulate all these government agencies and private water companies, explaining the context of a tweet he posted on Thursday.
“It’s a pity that we have a Department of Energy, which is important of course, but we do not have a Department of Water – an apex body that would centralize all activities having to do with water, distribution and supply so that we don’t get into this crisis,” he told CNN Philippines.
The nation’s top economist noted that the shortage in water supply has already made a dent in the economy, particularly in the tourism industry.
“Hotels have been complaining that they do not have water, so tourism will be affected. And tourism is a part of services exports,” he said.
The government already cut its economic growth target despite lower inflation because of the delays in the passage of the 2019 national budget.
The National Economic and Development Authority previously warned that the ongoing dry spell could cause prices to rise.