By MYRNA M. VELASCO
State-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) has been instructed by the Department of Finance (DOF) to initiate the filing of “collection cases” against companies that have unpaid receivables, because their settlements could help beef up the company’s cash hoard by additional P10 billion.
The collection mandate of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III was channeled through Finance Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Bayani Agabin, who is his alter ego at the PSALM Board.
Agabin said the directive of the finance chief is for PSALM “to immediately initiate collection cases against the erstwhile IPPAs (independent power producer administrators) of the Unified Leyte strips of energy in Tongonan, Leyte; particularly Good Friends Hydro Resources Corporation of Fernando Borja.”
Another target for immediate collection of unpaid obligations is Waterfront Mactan Casino Hotel, Inc. of businessman William Gatchalian, who happens to be the father of the chairman of the Senate committee on energy Sherwin T. Gatchalian.
The Waterfront Hotel’s delinquency of ₱87.74 million was among the smaller amounts being chased by the government for collection, but for most players in the power industry, the settlement of that account is symbolic because it assures that this will not end up to be a stranded debt that could be subsidized or written off by the Murang Kuryente Act authored by Gatchalian; which in essence, the Malampaya fund or the consumers will end up paying for if it will not be settled.
PSALM President Irene Joy Garcia said “we have already released a demand letter (to Waterfront Hotel),” but she said the company had not settled so they needed to elevate the matter to the board.
She expounded that the DOF had then instructed PSALM “to endorse already the matter to the OGCC (Office of the Government Corporate Counsel) for initiation of collection remedies.”
The Waterfront Hotel receivables along with the other unpaid obligations of the IPPAs form part of the ₱95 billion worth of arrears that PSALM has been running after with various customer-firms, including the dispute with San Miguel Corporation on the Ilijan plant.
For IPPA-firm Good Friends Hydro Resources, its unsettled obligations hovered at ₱1.21 billion; and there is also aggregate ₱3.8 billion being pursued with the Gotianun-owned FDC Utilities Inc. for IPPA deals on Mount Apo I (₱1.17 billion) and Mount Apo II (₱2.63 billion) geothermal plants; then ₱4.19 billion with the Vivant-Santa Clara Northern Renewables Generation Corporation, which is the IPPA for the Bakun hydroelectric power facility in Ilocos Sur.
PSALM explained that both IPPA pacts with the subsidiaries of Filinvest “were terminated for non-payment,” adding that “the amounts due to PSALM are the subject of two separate arbitration proceedings initiated by these Filinvest companies.” It was further qualified though that the Gotianun group already expressed willingness to settle such obligations.
For the Vivant-Santa Clara receivables, PSALM said it is expecting “to collect additional payments from Northern Renewables this 2020, in view of a settlement agreement they had submitted to the court.”
Meanwhile, the subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation – South Premiere Power Corporation (SPPC) – has indicated that it did not receive any billing yet for the ₱23.94 billion worth of ‘unpaid obligations’ being claimed by state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation.
Instead, the diversifying conglomerate stipulated that it just learned of the new figures via statement of the government-owned firm channeled through the media.
“SPPC has not received any billing statement from PSALM claiming the alleged unpaid amount of ₱23.94 billion. PSALM has released the figure to the media instead of informing affected party SPPC or SMC,” the company has lamented.