MANILA — The House Committee on Energy vowed Tuesday to help find solutions to problems raised by the energy sector.
"We will definitely come up with the ways and means and solutions as to be able to fix most of the problems," House Committee on Energy chairperson Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco said.
The energy sector composed of petroleum companies and electric power distributors, in a two-part briefing, presented not only the current state of their businesses, objectives, and accomplishments, but also the challenges and issues they face, including fuel smuggling.
"The Department of Finance estimated about P44 billion in revenue losses per year due to smuggling," according to a statement by Philippine Institute of Petroleum (PIP) Executive Director Raffy Capinpin.
"It deprives the government of the needed revenues for social services and support infrastructure build up and contribute to the uneven playing field."
There are also concerns about the biofuel blend.
"There are reports of non-compliance to the current requirement at the retail level which contributes to the uneven playing field. More so is expected with a higher blend… The cost of local ethanol is significantly higher than imported ethanol," Capinpin said.
The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PhilRECA) said they hope some of the measures pending in the Senate and House of Representatives will be passed into law.
These include the following:
- Senior Citizen Discount on Electricity
- Linemen Appreciation Day
- Expansion of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
- Creation of the Energy Counsel Office
- Mandatory Insurance Coverage and Benefits of All Line workers
- An Act Establishing the Lineman Training Academy
- An Act Exempting the Sale of Electricity by Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Companies particularly non-stock non-profit electric Cooperatives from the imposition of Value-added tax
All of these issues, the stakeholders believe, will help mitigate the effects of rising fuel costs.
Velasco said he is "pushing" for the strengthening of the Energy Regulatory Commission to solve the issues hounding the energy sector.
"One of the things that I was pushing forward back in the 17th Congress was the strengthening of the ERC because looking at all the issues that are being brought up, I think there is really, a big backlog really is in the ERC," he said.