After delayed efforts since the middle of last year, everything indicates that the Authority for Public Private Alliances (AAPP) is heading to announce – possibly before the end of August – the consortium selected for the operation of the service areas of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (AAA) for the next 20 years.
That is the information obtained by EL VOCERO according to a communication made by the group that prevailed in the evaluation, in which they detail part of the agreements with the government of Puerto Rico and the public corporation. It is a consortium between IBT and MIYA.
The document represents that: "Puerto Rico has become one of the markets of Miya, thanks to the recently granted concession with the AAA", and indicates that “the contract is expected to be finalized and receive final approval from the government of Puerto Rico in the short term (August 2020).”
Last year, in an interview with this newspaper, the AAPP reported that the preferred proponent would then From the proposal analysis process, it was a global consortium, legally created in the United States, made up of multinational companies with headquarters in other countries. Both IBT and MIYA have their headquarters in Spain.
EL VOCERO tried to achieve communication with both companies, but it was not possible. Meanwhile, Fermín Fontanés, executive director of the AAPP, expressed that “negotiations with the preferred proponent are ongoing. For this reason, we cannot anticipate a date to announce the selection, since, as we have previously established, once the negotiation process is complete, several approvals are required, including that of the Fiscal Oversight Board, which in this case must confirm that the contract be in line with the AAA's fiscal plan. ”
He stressed that once the negotiation was completed“ and that we have the required approvals, we will be in a position to make the announcement and, in turn, open all the details to the public. of the process, as required by law. " They were asked about Spanish companies, but the AAPP recalled that they are not in a position to disclose anything.
Meanwhile, the document highlights that the award of the 20-year contract is to "manage, operate and maintain the entire commercial process of the water supply service on the Island ”. This does not take into account decisions on rates, which is the responsibility of the public corporation. But, it will be in charge of designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining the necessary capital improvements.
It states that the contract includes the replacement of all conventional meters to measure water consumption by smart meters, and that they will be installed around 1,300 meters per day. In total, there will be 1.4 million smart meters that should help reduce water loss, which is estimated at 60% of all that is managed by the AAA system. The meters will be provided by the Diehl company and could take up to four years to complete.
The contract also includes the billing and customer service processes. Not so the technical part of the public corporation.
Regarding the staff, it is also stated in the document that “management estimates that up to 740 employees would be required, of which some would have the possibility of leaving the AAA and join the consortium. ”
“ MIYA has the right, but not the contract obligation, to accept current employees related to those services (800 employees who otherwise have the right to be reassigned within the utility company) "It abounds.
The AAA has around 2,000 employees, but those who work in the technical area – which is a large part – should not be affected by the transaction.
On the other hand, the privatization group highlights that it has with the support of one of the world's leading financial institutions and places the investment capital at $ 380 million. The annual income of the only public water supply corporation on the Island – with 1.3 million subscribers – is around $ 170 million.
When in November 2019 EL VOCERO exclusively published that the AAPP was already managing with a preferred consortium the conditions for its final selection, the government projected that before December 31 the recommendation of the contract would be made. However, everything was delayed, and then there were new delays due to the local emergency due to the earthquakes at the beginning of the year and the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).
In the process of awarding the contract, the board participates from the AAA – which must give its approval – and they must also obtain the approval of the Federal Fiscal Control Board, as Fontanés has said.
The use of more advanced and intelligent technology to detect water loss and be able to repair the pipelines in due time, should contribute to protect water resources, lower operational costs and improve income.
The transition with the entry of the new operator should take between 120 to 180 days, as previously advanced by the AAPP.  Transparency questioned
Pedro Irene Maymí, past president of the Authentic Independent Union (UIA) of AAA employees —and current candidate for representative for accumulation by the P Artido Popular Democrático— has been one of the figures that has raised the most questions about the privatization process, understanding that there has been a lack of transparency.
"Here is a rigged process," he said yesterday afternoon, and said that he saw the MIYA announcement in a publication in the United States, even though the information of the PPP award has not been made in Puerto Rico. "Apparently this company lies in that document because they did not take the auction," he said, saying that they entered with another group.
He said that the employees are concerned because they have not received the necessary information and that distresses them. "There was no transparency in this process and there is no guarantee of jobs for the employees of the authority, because the AAPP law says that the only thing the privatizer is committed to is interviewing them," he added.