NEA seeks write-off of EC’s ‘worthless receivables’

Published June 4, 2021, 5:02 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) is seeking write-off of the consumers’ “worthless receivables”, including those whose records have been destroyed or already impossible to be retrieved.

In particular, NEA indicated in an addendum that it is providing clarification to the debts’ write-off mandate, following the bid of Lanao Del Sur Electric Cooperative (LASURECO) that its arrears be also expunged because records on such have already been lost or destroyed, including electronic storage devices, because of the armed conflict in Marawi in 2017.

According to NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong, “the existing NEA guidelines on the writing-off of receivables do not cover such conditions as a qualification for the writing-off of said receivables.”

Under the agency’s directive, he qualified that the write-off of liabilities shall cover those arising from natural calamities, as well as man-made disasters like theft, robbery, arson and other crimes, acts of terrorism, civil disorder, war and the like.”

NEA specified that the request for write-off of worthless receivables “must be duly approved by the EC (Electric Cooperative) Board of Directors, through a resolution stating the amount to be written off and the circumstances of the loss, destruction or damage.”

NEA added that such plea for cancellation of receivables must likewise be supported by relevant documents that shall be prescribed by the agency.

“The amount to be written off, as proven by the required evidence presented, shall be limited and shall be applicable only to power bills that were lost on the date of declaration of the state of calamity or the occurrence of the above-mentioned unforeseen/fortuitous events and other circumstances,” the electrification agency stated.

Lost documents during the 2017 Marawi siege are now posing hurdles on targets for debt collection, even by state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), on the more than P10 billion worth of arrears of debt-ridden LASURECO.

The company previously noted that the tangled financial obligations of LASURECO are not considered “bad debts” yet – and these are still up for collection by PSALM.

In the past, the proposal of NEA relative to the LASURECO debts, would be to have it written off through an Executive Order (EO) that shall be issued by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Beyond the propounded liabilities’ condonation though, Masongsong asserted that the more comprehensive plan is placing the electric cooperative under government receivership.

On LASURECO’s arrears, it was emphasized that bulk had been owed to state-run PSALM relative to the supply procurements of the power utility over the years.

The electric cooperative also has unpaid dues with transmission service provider National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, the NEA and even other power suppliers.

Debt condonation for LASURECO was initially put forward as part of the prescription of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), but had not been carried out.