Affordable electricity sounds like a good idea, right? As this article explains, there is a move in the Philippine Senate to pass twin bills to lower electricity costs in the country by reducing government taxes and royalties on distribution utilities and power generation companies.
According to the article, “Reduced electricity cost leaves consumers with more money to spend. On the other hand, as power comprises a significant cost of doing business, lowering power rates will benefit our industries by making their products and services more competitive, especially in international markets. This will, in turn, avert lay-offs and or shutdowns of factories and keep investments here. This shall ensure more jobs for Filipinos.”
The measure sounds noble in intent, except that next year is election year once again. The article continues with this paragraph:
Lowering power costs has long been Enrile’s advocacy even before the senatorial campaign in 2004. The passage of the twin bills will in effect be a fulfillment of the senator’s campaign promise of reducing power costs to provide consumers more purchasing power, and increase the chances for businesses to survive the global economic slump. (emphasis mine)
Quite a load of campaign-common motherhood statements here. “leaves consumers with more money” “lowering… rates will benefit our industries by making their products and services more competitive, especially in international markets.”
Now, I’m a film critic, what do I know? I may not be the best person to counter this argument, but (and again, I may be wrong) there are things in this article that annoy me (meaning, this is just a personal rant on the article.) If you agree with the proposal, fine. I’m not lobbying here.
1. Electricity rates in the country are indeed one of the highest in Asia. The proposal to lower these rates is to remove or lower govt taxes and royalties on distribution utilities and power generation companies. First question, are these taxes the real reason why the rates are high?
In a normal residential electric bill, the rates are broken down per item to show how a distribution company computes for how much it can charge the end-user (here I refuse the term, consumer – i hate that word.)
A quick read of Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Reforms Act of 2001, commonly referred to as the EPIRA (which I found here), defines the parameters how providers may charge their customers, almost always subject to regulation by the ERC.
Therefore, as I understand it, if the rates are almost always subject to regulation, the rates are not necessarily overcharged. If they are, the ERC, and even the Senate (which I think it has done recently), has jurisdiction over the oversight.
If the taxes are the main culprit, it would be more enlightening to the general public for the article to expound specifics, rather than just make statements palatable to the electorate. Which taxes are these, why are they causing the electricity rates to be high, so on and so forth.
2. “Reduced electricity cost leaves consumers with more money to spend.”
Really? Those who can’t afford, still can’t afford. There are other costs of living which affect the common tao and electric bills are just one of them.
3. “lowering power rates will benefit our industries by making their products and services more competitive, especially in international markets. This will, in turn, avert lay-offs and or shutdowns of factories and keep investments here. This shall ensure more jobs for Filipinos.”
The statement can’t be more incongruous. lowering power rates will directly benefit our industries – correct. By making their products and services more competitive? Not necessarily. Especially in the international markets? It is known that our exports account for a very small fraction of our economy.
The underground economy is about as large as the above-ground economy and is what keeps this country afloat despite the worldwide economic slowdown. That this country is thriving is just a testament to our non-dependency with US credit institutions.
This singular act will avert lay-offs? And create more jobs?
What this article does not discuss is a means to educate Filipinos more on the benefits of renewable energy. That it is imperative that we use alternative sources of energy. That both upper and lower houses of congress are doing stuff to address issues on energy AND the environment. What this article does not discuss is that we citizens of this climate changing world need to be responsible in USING energy, that we need to reduce our carbon footprint, that we need to do so not for our own sake but for the future survival of the human race.
If we’re paying for our electric bills, who’s paying for the environment?
Murang kuryente, my ass. This sounds like another campaign promise.