Cabi­net ap­proves Malam­paya Fund use to re­tire power debts

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By MYRNA M. VELASCO

The eco­nomic clus­ter of the Duterte Cabi­net has al­ready given the green light for the use of the Malam­paya Fund to re­tire the es­ti­mated R245-bil­lion resid­ual li­a­bil­i­ties of the Power Sec­tor As­sets and Li­a­bil­i­ties Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PSALM), a pol­icy that is built upon the goal of low­er­ing elec­tric­ity rates for con­sumers.

“That mea­sure (use of Malam­paya Fund), I have al­ready sub­mit­ted that to the Cabi­net Eco­nomic Clus­ter and it was al­ready ap­proved… they don’t have any reser­va­tions about it, we’re one in this,” En­ergy Sec­re­tary Al­fonso G. Cusi said in an in­ter­view.

If the Malam­paya Fund will be ap­plied to set­tle the re­main­ing power sec­tor debts, it is es­ti­mated that elec­tric­ity rates be­ing passed on to the Filipino con­sumers can be re­duced by as much as R0.28 per kilowatt hour – reck­oned from the ag­gre­gate cost re­cov­er­ies for stranded debts and stranded con­tract costs be­ing re­flected as uni­ver­sal charges (UCs) in the elec­tric bills.

Cusi said if there’s seem­ing de­lay in the use of the Malam­paya Fund to re­tire the power sec­tor’s out­stand­ing fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions, “that’s be­cause this whole process needs to pass through leg­is­la­tion.” But he qual­i­fied “so far, we (the Ex­ec­u­tive Branch and Congress) have been mov­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously on this mea­sure.”

The en­ergy chief dis­cerned that this “Malam­paya Fund get­ting stranded in govern­ment cof­fers has some con­tra­dict­ing points – that while we have the money in­tended for en­ergy re­source devel­op­ment, the irony is that we’re ac­tu­ally hav­ing short­age in elec­tric­ity sup­ply… if it’s like in a fam­ily: We have the money, but we are ac­tu­ally poor and there’s noth­ing we can use to buy food be­cause that amount is stranded in an ac­count… so that’s not com­ing as a right bal­ance.”

As com­mu­ni­cated to the Depart­ment of En­ergy (DOE), the Malam­paya Fund re­port­edly has R228-bil­lion de­posit since three months ago – la­beled in the na­tional trea­sury as “spe­cial ac­count.”

Pre­vi­ous poli­cies al­lowed Pres­i­den­tial dis­cre­tion on fund re­lease from the State’s gas roy­alty share but a rul­ing of the Supreme Court al­ready in­val­i­dated such prac­tice.

Cusi said this cir­cuitous process of do­ing it through leg­is­la­tion is the only way for this en­ergy re­source fund to be ap­plied

AL­FONSO G. CUSI

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