by Myrna Velasco, 19 August 2015
from Manila Bulletin
The National Power Corp. (NPC) mulls a condonation of interest charges in the mounting debts of electric cooperatives in the Muslim Mindanao areas as a policy under the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
NPC President Gladys Cruz Sta. Rita disclosed that the aggregate debts of Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA) electric cooperatives already accumulated to P4 billion to date.
While collections have been improving, she indicated that there should be some measures to help these electric cooperatives stay financially-afloat for the long term.
“We are currently giving priority attention to our collection efficiency in BASULTA areas,” Sta. Rita said.
She further indicated that “while these areas have an accumulated outstanding account with NPC of almost P4 billion now, these electric cooperatives have shown improved payment of their current power bills despite reduction in their energy sales.”
The NPC chief executive thus noted that they have been thinking out of an option to have the interest charges on the outstanding accounts of the electric cooperatives in these areas to be condoned “or made part of the BBL framework.”
Sta. Rita acknowledged though that such policy scheme “will require a long process beyond the control of NPC.”
She noted that many of the electric cooperatives within the off-grid operations of NPC have already been logging improved operations – both technically and financially.
“With exception to these (BASULTA) areas, all electric cooperatives in missionary areas are current in paying their power bills with NPC… it is only the BASULTA areas which require close collaboration,” Sta. Rita said.
When the big-ticket assets of NPC were privatized, the major residual function it had been bestowed with is servicing the electricity needs of areas under the so-called Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG), comprising of the off-grid and far-flung areas.