Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate has assailed anew the decision of power distributors to impose an increase in electricity rates this month, saying that the unabated adjustments will render useless government’s bid to attract investors.
Zarate said that aside from scaring off possible investors to the country, the continuing electricity rates adjustment will also “pull down” attempts to resuscitate the economy that is badly battered by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Talaga namang napakamahal ng koryente dito more than dun sa sinasabi nilang rason na mataas ang labor cost dito. (Electricity rates are really high here, more than what they claimed to be high cost of labor). I don’t think that is the real reason, ‘yung reason talaga kaya ayaw pumunta ng mga investors dito ay ang napakamahal na koryente (the real reason why investors are not coming is the high electricity prices),” said Zarate in an interview.
The opposition lawmaker said that so long as the power cost is high there is likely no more reason why foreign investors would want to do business in the PHilippines.
“However, you will entice investors to come in ‘yung nga inaasahan mong mga investors ay maghahanap sila kung saan mas favorable sa kanilang atmosphere, yan ang sinasabi lagi ng mga investors kaya hindi ganoon ka-competitive ang Pilipinas (those you hope will invest will look for a favorable atmosphere, that is what investors are always saying, that is the reason why Philippines is not that competitive),” Zarate explained.
The partylist lawmaker appealed to Meralco to be a responsible corporation and take into consideration consumers’ burdens amid the pandemic.
He added that Meralco could delay or absorb the so-called ‘pass on charges’ without losing profit.
” In fact, almost monopoly na ang kanyang franchise area, even despite pandemic, nabalitaan ba natin na nalugi ang Meralco? (did we ever hear that Meralco lost). Siguro medyo nabawasan ang profit pero profitable pa rin siya (Maybe the profit was reduced but they remain profitable),” said Zarate.
He pointed out that compared to ordinary Filipinos who suffered huge losses during the pandemic, Meralco still enjoyed profit.
Zarate said there are suspicions that power firms are taking advantage of the current pandemic to increase their charges.
Addressing the issues on the continuing power rate adjustments has become the biggest challenge to the Department of Energy, he admitted.
Meralco earlier announced a P0.0283 per kilowatt-hour power rate hike this month as a result of higher transmission charge.
This is equivalent to an extra charge of P5.66 for those consuming 200 kWh, P8.49 for those consuming 300 kWh, and P14.15 for those consuming 500 kWh.
This is the 7th consecutive month that Meralco is implementing a power rate hike.