Aquino administration exec bucks privatization of Mindanao hydro plantsBy Germelina Lacorte
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The head of the Mindanao Development Authority said she was opposed to the sale of the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants to the private sector because she could not find anything to justify such a move.
Luwalhati Antonino said privatizing the two facilities was unjustified because the government was not losing from their operation.
“We know that Agus and Pulangi have been net earners. The generation cost for hydro is at 97 centavos per kilowatt hour, and Napocor is selling it at P3 per kilowatt hour, so, how could it be losing?” Antonino said.
She said she told President Benigno Aquino the same reasons for keeping the facilities under government control.
Antonino said when she met with Aquino here last Tuesday, she floated the idea of spinning off the Agus-Pulangi hydropower complex from the National Power Corp. (Napocor) and running it as a separate government-owned and controlled corporation. This idea was supported by Mindanao leaders, she said.
Mindanao leaders even proposed the creation of a Mindanao Power Co. to operate the two hydropower plants, which supply about 55 percent of Mindanao power needs.
Antonino said Aquino was open to the idea but wanted to see proof that the hydropower plants were making money.
She said she already asked Napocor and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) to submit their financial statements.
“The President wanted to look into the viability of the proposal,” Antonino said.
She said once the Mindanao group proved that Agus and Pulangi are still profitable, and can still pay Napocor’s debt, the next step would be for the government to look into legal remedies, which will include among others, the amendment of the Epira Law and a separate legislation creating the new government corporation.
“It is a profitable business. If we privatize it, the company that is going to buy it will be a very lucky one,” Antonino said.
Recent Stories:With a report from Judy Quiros, Inquirer Mindanao