New EO meant to streamline approval for energy projects

By Myrna M. Velasco – January 30, 2017, 10:00 PM

from Manila Bulletin

The Duterte administration’s economic team has started fleshing out the parameters of a proposed Executive Order (EO) that would streamline approval processes for energy projects.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi  said the proposal of declaring “energy projects to be of national significance” had been calendared for discussion at the Cabinet  last Friday.

He said the Department of Energy (DOE) already came up with propounded timescale on specific processes how projects would go through the maze of permitting, licensing and all other routes of approvals.

At this stage, the energy chief emphasized that what they are just trying to ascertain would be for these to be able to pass “stress test” on to implementation of energy projects. “For DOE (Department of Energy), we already have timeline for approvals. We are just making sure that these are followed,” Cusi said.

It was the energy department which lodged the EO proposal in Malacañang. Essentially, it necessitates having a set up of systematic and labor-saving approval processes to avoid project delays.

Often, the long tracks of permitting and approvals are “deal killers” or could dull investors’ interest on certain energy ventures.

During last week’s commercial inauguration of the first phase of the 210-megawatt Sarangani coal-fired power project in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte sounded off anew his inclination that approvals of projects and investments be fast-tracked.

He declared that for Executive offices, like the DOE, project approvals shall be processed within a month’s time – with the director in-charge of initial processing just given 15 days to work on the papers.

For local government units (LGUs), the President noted that the process must only take three days, which Duterte claimed to be a ‘tried and tested formula’ when he was still LGU executive in Davao City.

Industry players in various segments of the energy sector have long been lobbying for the issuance of an EO or passage of a law that shall make project approvals and permitting systems efficient and time-saving.

The EO, as they wished, may also address the conflicting policies that various government agencies often enforced on the approval of projects.