High Power Rates Pose Threat to Economic Goals of “Bagong Pilipinas” – Consumer Group

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Power rates in the Philippines, which are among the highest in Asia, are becoming a significant obstacle to the economic goals of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s “Bagong Pilipinas” initiative, according to a consumer group. Rodolfo Javellana Jr., the president of the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC), issued a warning in response to the recent 57-centavo per kilowatt-hour increase announced by Meralco, the country’s largest power distributor.

Javellana emphasized that the high power rates, particularly in Meralco service areas that account for over 75 percent of the economy, are discouraging efforts to attract both foreign and local investors. He stated, “The ‘Bagong Pilipinas’ initiatives will not be realized if electricity rates continue to be expensive and costly. The foreign investors we are trying to attract will not set up business here due to the prohibitively high electricity prices, especially when those companies are owned by a few oligarchs.”

To create a more investor-friendly business climate, Javellana urged Congress to dismantle laws that allow monopolies in the electric utilities sector and revise the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 to lower the cost of electricity in the country. He suggested that instead of prioritizing constitutional amendments, the focus should be on modifying existing laws. Javellana believes that making electricity more affordable is crucial for the improvement of the economy and attracting foreign direct investments.

According to Javellana, adjusting power rates to reasonable levels would have an immediate positive impact, leading to increased investments. He also stressed the importance of investigating the practices of power utilities and allegations of monopoly. The House of Representatives has initiated an investigation into the issue following a privilege speech by Laguna Representative Danilo Fernandez, who accused Meralco of franchise abuse. Meralco, however, has denied these allegations.

The high power rates in the Philippines are a cause for concern, as they hinder the country’s economic growth and discourage potential investors. The “Bagong Pilipinas” initiative aims to usher in a new era of progress and development, but the exorbitant electricity prices act as a major deterrent. In order to attract both local and foreign investments, it is crucial to address the issue of expensive electricity.

Lowering power rates requires a comprehensive approach. Congress needs to review and revise the existing laws that allow monopolies in the electric utilities sector. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 should be examined to identify areas where cost reductions can be made. By making electricity more affordable, the Philippines can create a business climate that is conducive to investment and economic growth.

Furthermore, it is important to investigate allegations of monopoly and unfair practices within the power utilities sector. The House of Representatives has taken the initiative to probe into the issue, following accusations of franchise abuse by Meralco. This investigation will shed light on the practices of power companies and ensure a level playing field for all market participants.

Addressing the issue of high power rates is not only essential for the success of the “Bagong Pilipinas” initiative but also for the overall economic development of the Philippines. By creating an environment with affordable electricity, the country can attract more investors and stimulate economic growth. It is crucial for the government and relevant stakeholders to work together to find solutions that will benefit both consumers and the economy as a whole.

Source: The Manila Times

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