Don’t let RP be laughingstock for high cost of power — Magsaysay

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay is calling for a review on the ballooning cost of power in the country which is now the highest in Asia and is seen to rival the cost of power in Europe to ensure that the public is not being overcharged for the electricity they consume.

“It is sad that that most of the increases are attributed to the payments made to the independent power producers that the government has entered into contracts with several administrations back,” she said. “If we check our electric bills, these charges are actually accounting for a bigger part than the actual energy consumption.”

“Why is the ERC approving these bids for increases when the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. under the EPIRA is acknowledging that there has been overpayments made to the IPPs?” she said.

Magsaysay said that there should first be a review or backtracking of records before more charges are imposed on unsuspecting power consumers.

“What’s happening here is that the government is not sure about the exact difference in the actual payments and the required payments, but they continue to pay based on the existing IPP contracts which is higher than the prevailing market prices on electricity,” she said. “But what happens if it is proven that there is overpayment? They will propose a refund? But how long will that take?”

Magsaysay advised the ERC and the Department of Energy to instead look into the matter closely and review the contracts and the records before they jump the gun and impose new hikes on utility costs as Filipinos have been reeling from their electric bills that have roughly doubled in recent years despite smaller consumption.

“Let us be sensitive to the plight of ordinary working folk. Let us find solutions to the problem and fix it now before it gets out of hand and we find ourselves the laughingstock of the world for allowing ridiculously exorbitant price of power for such a small country,” she said.

In another news, Magsaysay called on the Department of Labor and Employment to reassess the feasibility of a wage increase for workers to able to cope with inflation and skyrocketing prices of goods amid the irrevocable implementation of the 12% VAT on toll on October 1.

According to Magsaysay, even a recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) indicated that wages in the country have been stagnant compared to our Asian neighbors.

“Compounding this issue is the incessant increases in the prices of basic commodities, and expenses such fares and the worst being the high prices of petroleum products which causes a ripple effect on goods and transport, which is exacerbated by the 12 VAT on toll and the impending increase in MRT and LRT fares,” she said.

“The government refuses to give a reprieve to motorists and commuters who will be affected by the 12 percent VAT on toll, citing that this will not have a major impact on their expenses but what is the basis of this statement? Do they know how important P10-P20 is for the ordinary worker or motorist? For the minimum increase in toll, it would result in at least P600 in additional expenses that would be deducted from their income,” she said.

“The Labor sector has long been asking for a reasonable raise in their wages. What they are asking for is really not that unreasonable. The government keeps on citing a growth in our economy but so far, it has not been felt by the regular Filipinos,” she said.

“This is actually not the right time to impose an additional tax on Filipinos who are already reeling from the oil crisis and the recent disaster affecting Northern Luzon, but since the government could no longer be swayed on their decision to slap this new burden, then perhaps, they need to be open to the idea of helping the Filipinos cope with this new expense,” she said.#