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Monday, February 26, 2024

Group asserts high power rates drive away investors

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A consumer advocacy group has warned that high power rates not only undermine the very essence of “Bagong Pilipinas,” a flagship reform program of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., but also discourage investors.

Rodolfo Javellana Jr, president of United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC), made the statement following a 57-centavo per kilowatt hour increase in power rates announced by Meralco.

Javellana said the high power rates, especially in Meralco service areas accounting for more than 75 percent of the economy, is a major disincentive in efforts to attract more investors, foreign or local.

Meralco had announced that the 57-centavo increase was necessary to recoup a 45-centavo per kwh rise in generation costs that began last month.

“The ‘Bagong Pilipinas initiatives will not be realized if electricity rates will continue to be expensive and costly,” Javellana said in Filipino. Philippine power rates are reputedly among the highest in Asia.

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“The foreign investors we are trying to attract will not set up business here due to the prohibited electricity prices those companies are owned by a few oligarch,” Javellana stressed.

The UFCC head said to bring a more investor friendly business climate, Congress must dismantle laws allowing monopolies in electric utilities and revise the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA of 2001 to lower the cost of electricity in the country.

Javellana blamed the EPIRA as the “root of evil” in the power industry and legislators should see it.

“If that is the law, then we should revise or modify, instead of them prioritizing amending the Constitution,” Javellana said.

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