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Traders on edge over power woes

Gov’t urged to induce more investments in power generation
By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 12:23 AM February 28, 2014

Masked protesters hold a rally at the Philippine Supreme Court to coincide with the oral arguments on the power rates hike petition of Meralco, the country’s largest electric power distributor, on Jan. 21, 2014 in Manila. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the government to do something about the country’s deteriorating power situation, without having to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. AP PHOTO/BULLIT MARQUEZ

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has urged the government to do something about the country’s deteriorating power situation, without having to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

The powerful trade bloc specifically asked the authorities to craft a national strategy needed to address the energy problems now plaguing the country.

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“Stressing that power supply sustainability, quality and reliability is a challenge that must be concretely laid out annually and solidly planned and executed in a minimum of five years, [we are reiterating our] call on government to come up with a concrete, national, well-coordinated power development plan … including identifying the specific location, type of fuel, size, actual date of commissioning of power plants and to do it with a sense of urgency,” the PCCI said in a statement issued on Thursday.

But the measures must be implemented without amending the Epira, which the PCCI fears will not result in anything concrete or positive, and may only “create an unstable framework and engender uncertainty in the industry.”

Instead of initiating activities that could induce a wait-and-see attitude among potential investors and financial institutions, the PCCI stressed that the government should adopt measures to induce more investments in power generation.

One of the proposals was to strengthen the “market power” of electric cooperatives by allowing them to pool their resources. This will enable them to attain economies of scale and improve production efficiencies.

PCCI pointed out that there was a high level of interest in investing in power generation but there was no clear road to off-takers.

Also, there is a need to streamline the business permits and licensing system, especially in power generation, which require more than 150 such documents, the group said.

To help address escalating costs, the country’s largest business organization suggested a review, revamp or suspension of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which, the group claimed, had “not added value to the system.”

The PCCI also urged the government to remove items that added to electricity tariffs, such as the value added tax, franchise tax, systems losses and incremental currency exchange rate adjustment (Icera).

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TAGS: Business, Government, Investments, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, power woes
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