Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Friday slammed the latest power rate hike this October, saying the Philippines is scaring off investors due to the high cost of electricity.
“Electricity here is truly more expensive, more than the reason they’re saying that we have high labor costs here. I don’t think that is the real reason. The real reason why investors won’t come here is that our electricity is so expensive,” Zarate said in an interview .
“For as long as we can’t bring it down, that will really pull us down, prevent our economy from bouncing back. However you will entice investors to come in, the investors you are expecting will still look for an atmosphere favorable to them. That’s what investors always say, that’s why the Philippines isn’t that competitive,” Zarate added.
The Bayan Muna solon appealed to the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to be a responsible corporation and take into consideration consumers’ burdens amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that Meralco could delay or absorb the so-called “pass on charges” without losing profit.
“In fact, they have a near-monopoly in their franchise area, even despite the pandemic. Have we heard about Meralco losing profits?
Maybe they’ve had less profit, but they’re still profitable. But compared to ordinary Filipinos, for example, who have lost so much during the pandemic, we are calling on Meralco to delay or absorb these (charges),” stressed Zarate.
Their counter-argument to Meralco’s reasoning, he said, was that the power firm gets its supply from so many generation companies that are also its sister companies or subsidiaries, “if not 100 percent owned at least partially owned.”
“These companies are the ones that pass huge generation costs that eventually our consumers are burdened with, and this is a great challenge to our Department of Energy because the DOE and even the Energy Regulatory Commission can’t keep electricity costs from rising, and they are taking advantage of this even during the pandemic,” he added.
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 seventh consecutive month that Meralco is raising power rates.