Gov’t agencies prodded on 30-day energy projects’ approval

By Myrna M. Velasco – May 25, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

With the full enforcement of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 30, government agencies – including local government units (LGUs) – are required to formally flesh out their specific processes for the propounded “strict” 30-day timeline of approvals on key energy projects.

In a Circular governing the issuance of Certificate of Energy Project of National Significance (CEPNS), the Department of Energy (DOE) has directed all relevant national government agencies (NGAs) and LGUs as well as government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) involved in the processing and approval of permits of energy projects, “to submit a streamlined procedure relative to the processing of energy projects,” to the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC).

Malacañang’s EO 30 has duly designated the DOE to chair the EICC which serves as the coordinating body in facilitating the approvals of vital energy projects.

Relative to the order, concerned government agencies are given at least a year from the effectivity of the EO into submitting their respective approval processes – that entails then that their deadline will be August this year.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said he has yet to get all the inputs of all other government agencies, before finalizing the order that will harmonize the processes of EICC.

Their submitted timelines and processes will then be held as the baseline on the 30-day target of processing, evaluating and granting approval or denial on energy project applications with the EICC.

The 30-day approval timeline is reckoned on assumption that the applicant-energy firm has already submitted all the requirements being mandated by the pertinent government agencies.

If it would be the government agencies failing on rendering approvals, the DOE Circular stipulated that such “will result in the issuance of the relevant permit within five (5) working days after the lapse of the 30-working day period.”

The energy department stressed “no deviation from the baselines shall be allowed except when absolutely necessary – either to enable an agency to comply with a specific statutory directive or to avoid prejudicing the public interest.”

And when deviations will happen in the processing of specific energy project applications, it was noted that such must be duly reported by the EICC to the Office of the President.

Energy projects of national significance are those ventures with capital spending from R3.5 billion and higher and that they must have economic as well as environmental impacts, among other qualifications.

The Palace issued EO 30 end-June last year, but it is almost taking a year now for the DOE to concretize processes, despite the deluge of applications already lodged by prospective investors.