North Samar power debts reach P500MBy Rachel Arnaiz
CATARMAN, Northern Samar—Northern Samar, one of the country’s poorest provinces, faces disconnection from its electricity source after its electric cooperative failed to pay bills worth more than P500 million.
Hector Tabilisma, acting general manager of the Northern Samar Electric Cooperative (Norsamelco), said the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) may terminate its contract with the Norsamelco over the unpaid bills.
Tabilisma said Norsamelco’s supply contract with PSALM expired in December last year but was extended twice.
PSALM may terminate the contract and cut off power supply here anytime since Norsamelco has continued to fail to pay its debt, said Tabilisma.
Tabilisma was assigned to head the cooperative by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) that took over Norsamelco in July 2013 due to its soaring debts.
Aside from its more than P500-million debt to PSALM, Norsamelco also owes some P36 million to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, at least P2 million to the National Power Corp. and some P38 million in unpaid taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The cooperative is also delayed in its payment for a loan from NEA which Norsamelco used for posts, electrical lines and wires for power distribution.
Norsamelco’s financial crisis was attributed partly to its poor collection efficiency.
While it has an average monthly power sales of P41 million, Norsamelco’s actual collection is only P32 million.
Some local government units and commercial establishments are among the delinquent customers, with debts reaching P187 million.
Some officers of the cooperative, including former acting general manager Ramil Mora, have unliquidated cash advances.
In the past, Tabilisma said the cooperative spent at least P25,000 in travel expenses for each board member.
Norsamelco, he said, also has to cut down its work force from 200 to 150 employees to save P400,000 monthly.
“We have sent collection notices. If we can collect at least a P100 million from that amount, it will help reduce our payables,” Tabilisma said.
Norsamelco has also registered an average of P2.7 million in systems loss every month. Only 13 percent of this amount can be passed on to consumers while the bulk has been shouldered by Norsamelco.
Mora’s unliquidated cash advances reached P5 million while five other employees have still to liquidate cash advances involving hundreds of thousands of pesos. Mora also has unpaid electricity bill of P600,000.
Tabilisma said Mora’s cash advance was used for the operational expenses of his office. The new management also imposed a freeze on the travel of the cooperative’s board of directors.