By Myrna M. Velasco – October 2, 2017, 10:01 PM
from Manila Bulletin
It is an edict that promises to streamline energy project approvals within 30 days, but almost three months now and counting, Executive Order 30 (EO30) is still stuck at the phase of identification of the qualified projects; and the crafting of its implementing rules and regulations.
The EO was issued by Malacanang latter part of June and took effect August 4 this year following compliance to publication requirements.
That was also the time when the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) was constituted, with Senior Energy Undersecretary Jesus Cristino P. Posadas designated as the chair.
Nevertheless, while investors relentlessly seek clarity on policy directions relative to project approvals and how the EO could be operationalized, there is not much that the Department of Energy (DOE) can even impart to them as good news at this time.
At the recent ASEAN Energy Business Forum, Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella has declared that the EICC has yet to “identify and classify” what shall be treated as energy projects of national significance or EPNS.
Additionally, that powerful body created under EO 30 would still need to “establish the approval process of projects and harmonize the relevant rules and regulations of all government agencies.”
Further, the EICC has yet to “prepare rules on the resolution of inter-agency issues affecting the timely and efficient implementation of projects.”
The other core of EICC’s function would be on putting up that “database of information and web-based monitoring system,” which may also take time if the provider of information technology (IT) service would go through the usual government procurement process.
Fuentebella expounded that the DoE, being the lead agency, is still at the process also of finalizing the EO’s implementing rules and regulations.
The big puzzle for investors at this stage, is when this ‘to-do-list’ of the energy department and other relevant government agencies will really be completed so it can come as genuine relief to excessive red tape in project permitting and approval processes.
The DOE is in constant search and had been extending invitations to ‘serious investors’ for fresh capital inflow into the energy sector, but the department on one end, is being reminded as well as to really work hard and with determination on its promised policy reforms.
The Philippine energy sector is in need of additional power capacities and has also been enticing investments on the exploration and development of indigenous resources, like petroleum and coal, but for plans to take off, the private sector first looks at the policy pathway that this country offers.