COA rejects PrimeWater's P24-million claim vs Nueva Ecija water district

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) rejected a claim amounting to P24.2 million filed against the state-run Jaen Water District (JWD) in Nueva Ecija over a joint venture agreement in 2016.

In its January 27 decision, COA said the petitioner, Villar-owned PrimeWater Infrastructure Corporation, failed to show proper documentation proving that JWD owes millions of pesos.

PrimeWater had filed its petition in June 2018.

"Without the required documents to prove compliance and the duly accounted amount prayed for, this commission is constrained to deny the petition," COA said.

But state auditors said PrimeWater can refile its petition if it presents more documentation, beyond the June 2019 certification from JWD stating that no payment has been made for the transaction.

"It is incumbent upon PrimeWater to present evidence that the amount claimed is accurate, such as its financial statements under the [joint venture agreement], supported by schedules of revenues, operating expenses, capital expenditures, and changes in the working capital," COA added.

JWD entered into an agreement with PrimeWater in October 2016 for the "financing, development, rehabilitation, expansion, improvement, operation, and maintenance of the water supply and septage management system" in the municipacility of Jaen in Nueva Ecija.

The operations started in January 2017, but since PrimeWater's business permit was still under processing, official receipts of JWD were used for all transactions, including customer payments.

The money claim arose when the two parties agreed in 2017 to a full settlement and reconciliation of accounts in relation to their agreement, amounting to P24.2 million payable to PrimeWater.

But while the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel issued a favorable opinion on the planned action, the COA Regional Office advised that the commission has exclusive jurisdiction over settlement of money claims. –