GMA and high electric power bills

One of the major causes of the rift between President Arroyo and the Left in 2001 was the signing into law of the Electric Power Reform Act on June 8, 2001. A true-blue pro-imperialist, Arroyo chose EPIRA as the first law she signed into law as President.

In her speech at the signing of EPIRA, Arroyo said:

Our reputation as having one of the most expensive electricity rates in Asia will hopefully change with the law’s mandate of rate reduction of around 30 centavos per kilowatt-hour for residential subscribers. The law also provides for a reduction in industrial power rates.

Kung bababa ang presyo ng koryente, daat susunod ang pagbaba ng presyo ng mga bilihin, o kaya man lang maiiwan ang malubhang pagtaas pa ng mga presyo. Magiging competitive tayo sa ibang bansa.

In the aftermath of the EPIRA’s signing, the public was given b.s. upon b.s. of propaganda about the law’s purported benefits, as we can glean from this FAQ from the Department of Energy. It says that the EPIRA is good because it will provide the public:

Consumer Empowerment. This can be achieved by giving consumers the power to choose their source of electricity from among a host of generators and suppliers of electricity.

Higher Efficiency. Consumers will be assured of adequate and reliable power supply at lower rates.

Open Access. There will be open access to transmission and distribution network/ facilities so that the benefits of competition in the generation/supply sector could really trickle down to the consumers.

Industry Accountability. There will be higher levels of environmental, health and safety standards. Non-complying companies will be subject to appropriate fines and penalties. There will be higher levels of environmental, health and safety standards. Non-complying companies will be subject to appropriate fines and penalties.

Competition in Generation and Supply. There will be competition between and among generating companies where prices will be market-driven and competitive. There will be long-term contracts and a spot market where the trading of electricity between buyers and sellers will be undertaken. There will be competition between and among generating companies where prices will be market-driven and competitive. There will be long-term contracts and a spot market where the trading of electricity between buyers and sellers will be undertaken.

Electricity Tariff Unbundling. This includes the itemization and the segregation of various components of electricity tariffs to make the rates more transparent. With rates unbundled, customers will be able to know how much they would be paying for generation, transmission, distribution and other benefits or charges.

It also said that “these reforms are aimed at making sure our country will have reliable and competitively priced electricity. The strategy is to put an end to monopolies that breed inefficiency, encourage the entry of many more industry players, and generate competition that will benefit consumers in terms of better rates and services”.

Arroyo must also be held liable for 1) raising the VAT rate; and 2) for imposing VAT on petroleum products and electric power bills in Feb. 2006. At that time, she told the public:

Two percent is a very small increase

It is thus so disgusting to hear President Arroyo portray herself as the “savior” of consumers at this time when the painful effects of EPIRA and the imposition of VAT on petroleum and power rates should be catching up with her administration. More than the need for amendments, Congress should review the law and cross-check its effects vis-a-vis the promises the Arroyo administration. Indeed, we can’t buy the theatrics of GSIS top-honcho Winston Garcia about a “takeover” or “management change” of Meralco for even if the likes of Garcia would replace the Lopezes in Meralco, there is no assurance of “lower power rates” or at the very least, “more efficient” and “less corrupt” management of the country’s biggest utility firm. At the core of the issue are the policies of privatization and denationalization vis-a-vis strategic industries such as electric power and petroleum.

Who would be naive enough to believe that Arroyo, a puppet of imperialist globalization, would actually allow a takeover of Meralco?

After a long period of giving this administration endless “second chances” which Arroyo all too often f–ked up just to keep the reins of power, the public should reject the theatrics. We must demand that Congress do its job, scrap EPIRA and lift the VAT on fuel and power. In doing so, we will undo what Arroyo has done which is to permit high power rates. And while we are at it, we must remember and never forget the lies and deceit of Mrs. Arroyo that brought us to where we are now.

Additional readings:

Consumer group POWER’s statement on VAT and power rates

Understanding high power rates under the Arroyo regime

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