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Bayan Muna to COA: Check hike in Mimaropa electricity subsidies

/ 01:35 PM April 18, 2019
NGCP power lines

NGCP power lines (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna has asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to check on the supposed P3.5-billion increase in electrification missionary subsidies from 2016 to 2017, in several provinces inside Region IV-B.

According to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, he has sent a letter to COA and the Department of Energy, specifically to Electric Power Industry Management Bureau Director Mario Marasigan, to seek an explanation for the 106 percent increase.

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“This is a disturbing average increase of 160% for the Mimaropa area, increasing from P2.21 Billion in 2016 to P5.75 Billion in 2017,  despite the average increase in electricity consumption of only 6%,” Zarate said in a statement on Wednesday.

Missionary subsidies are given to areas not yet connected to the country’s main grids, as mandated by R.A. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.  The funds are obtained from the Universal Charges-Missionary Electrification (UCME) which is reflected in consumers’ monthly electricity bills.

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Zarate relayed that the missionary subsidies for Palawan increased by 105 percent, from P536 million in 2016 to P1.096 billion in 2017, while in Oriental Mindoro, the funds nearly doubled from P565 million in 2016 to P1.1 billion in 2017.

In Occidental Mindoro, the funds increased from P506 million to P1.655 billion, even if electricity used only increased by 5 to 6 percent per year.

Last November, Zarate filed House Resolution 2287, questioning the increase in subsidies from 2014 to 2016, and the projected increase by 2020.  According to Zarate, the subsidy was at P6.16 billion in 2014, P11.81 billion in 2016, and is expected to reach P19.35 billion in 2020.

READ: Solon wants probe on billions in missionary electricity subsidy

The lawmaker also asked DOE to explain why electric companies are collecting a high missionary subsidy rate of P15.91 to P19.98 per kilowatt hour (KwH) in some areas, compared to just P5.00 per kwh in others places.

“On Tablas Island, the annual subsidy increased 147% from P168 million to P414 million in 2017, P395 million in 2018, and P429 million in 2020. Kindly explain also the high subsidy rate per kwh of P10.81 to 14.80?” Zarate said.

“In Marinduque, the missionary subsidy increased even more by 237% to P1.023 Billion in 2017 from only P303 million in 2016. It would be P635 million in 2018, P622 million in 2019, and P921 million in 2020.  Please explain the subsidy rates of P12.44 to 22.65 per kwh for the four year period 2017 to 2020,” he added.

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Zarate said that these are “disturbing” increases, considering that the islands are “off-grid” areas not connected to the national grid.  He asked COA to be vigilant, alleging that these additional charges passed on to consumers may just benefit some individuals and power corporations

“Most of the power generation use expensive diesel and bunker fuel that costs P12.00 to P15.00 per kwh that the island communities cannot afford to pay. The government charges the consumers only P5.80 to P6.00 per kwh and pays the difference as missionary subsidies which in turn it charges to the national electric users of about P0.15 per kwh.

“We therefore cannot understand why the average subsidy in Marinduque is 12.44 to 22.65 per kwh and in Occidental Mindoro it is P15.91 to 19.98 per kwh?  These significant increases in 2017 and succeeding years are of major concern to this us because all the subsidies will eventually be passed on to the electric consuming public,” he added. /cbb

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TAGS: Bayan Muna, Commission On Audit, Department of Energy, missionary subsidies, Philippine news updates, Rep. Carlos Zarate
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