For rural electrification
Government-run National Electrification Administration (NEA) is supporting the move of some legislators who are seeking the reinstatement of P9.0 billion allocation for the country’s electrification program.
It was the ‘power bloc’ in the House of Representatives that has been pushing for that 2021 budget reinforcement, given the target of the Duterte administration to achieve electrification of all sitios and prospectively all households by year 2022.
Through House Resolution No. 1245, the House Committee on Appropriations is being urged “to restore the P9.0 billion in the NEA’s proposed budget for the implementation of the government’s electrification projects.”
As forthrightly stated by NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong, “the additional budget is important to realize the goal of total electrification by 2022.”
Taking cue from the move of the ‘power bloc’ legislators, the NEA chief asserted that the agency “will
appreciate a favorable action from Congress for the restoration of the original request for subsidy if only to fast-track the national government’s total electrification program.”
Given this year’s flagellation of the coronavirus pandemic, NEA revealed that electrification initiatives suffered delays primarily due to lack of budget , as some allotments had been rechanneled to the government’s Covid-19 response.
Masongsong qualified that for year 2021, the proposed budget had been preliminarily pegged at P10.8 billion – and was targeted for Sitio Electrification Program (SEP) Phase II; Barangay Line Enhancement Program; and Strategized Sitio Electrification for Off-Grid Areas, among others.
However, out of the proposed NEA allocation, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) significantly slashed that to just a trifling P1.8 billion – with P1.6 billion earmarked for sitio electrification; and the P200 million for Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF).
On NEA’s calculation, the P1.6 billion outlay will just be able to energize 1,085 sitios, and that would be a far cry from the goal of electrifying 12,000 sitios.
Masongsong lamented that “1.7 million households across the country remain without access to electricity,” and a drastically trimmed budget for the program spells continuing energy-scant predicament for many.
According to the lawmaker-proponents, “restoring the proposed budget will allow NEA to energize an additional 3,915 sitios and enhance the grid connections of 74 barangays,” and that shall include seven (7) barangays under the National Task Force to end local communist armed conflict; and will also bankroll at least 13 submarine cabling projects.
The propounded budget hike, according to the solons, will likewise augment the recommended P200 million allocation for ECERF, or the emergency fund that the electric cooperatives can tap into for the repair of their facilities if wrecked by natural calamities.
The House resolution stipulated “to be able to fully and effectively implement the directive of President Duterte as well as to finally provide access to electricity for all Filipinos, the NEA should be given the full amount it has proposed.”