Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I Think We All Should Fasten Our Seatbelts

The last thing I aimed to be seen here is a doomsayer, but for this time, I am afraid a have no choice but to sound like one. The news these days is just filled with horrible things, one after another, like we never had enough of them.

Congress is about to raise the taxes we all pay. Oil prices are steadily on the rise. Crimes thrive in our streets like never before. And as if these horrible things weren't enough, NAPOCOR had just received a go ahead from the Energy Regulatory Commission to increase its per kilowatt pricing, sending our bills further into the ceilings.

It is a double entendre of economic hell, rising oil prices and rising energy rates are just about the last things our economy need. With this rare but vicious combination, there is no more avoiding how the prices of basic commodities would soon burden our pockets all the more in the coming days. As if we had not gone through enough hell already. I think we all should fasten our seatbelts.

NAPOCOR has such the cruelest sense of timing that they could swallow the fact of further burdening the public when now is the time when we are facing the steepest rise in oil prices ever and when E-VAT is set to “expand” all the more. In fact, NAPOCOR has a "blackmail thing" going on. If the rates are not raised soon enough, the country is bound to step backward into the dark ages once more, just like in the early part of the 1990's. NAPOCOR executives are using as a justification of turning NAPOCOR into a more adorable enterprise to investors, in its quest for privatization but they seem to be hiding the fact so well that without immediate additional revenues, it is bound to go kaput by being forced to default on its obligations. In a year, NAPOCOR is said to be paying 60 Billion pesos in interest alone.

Most of these debts it had incurred emanated from the years when then President Fidel V. Ramos wielded his "emergency powers" to contract luxurious “energy contracts” in order to solve the dire power crisis then. What NAPOCOR did since then, is to let such debts to bloat steadily with interest and even went on subsidizing power rates, a sort of "cosmetic treatment" in order to show that the government is just doing fine and electricity rate is low, when the “real rates’ was in fact a little higher. I have no problem with subsidies but when it comes with dire consequences, like the steep and sudden rate increase that we are about to experience in the coming days, it's not worth taking. What NAPOCOR did was hiding the"true cost" of electricity for a long time, and when it could not "hide" anymore, it has to go now to the public and complain, asking for steep adjustments with pointed guns on our head or else....or else "dark ages" would descend upon us faster than we can say "Pizza!". Blackmailing has never been done as expertly as this way before.


Sound management should have led NAPOCOR executives in the past to amortize and spread the cost of these debts over a long period of time, like for example over a twenty-year period. In this manner, the burden may not be as high each year and as suddenly taxing.

I think NAPOCOR executives should all be hailed to congress for a legislative inquiry and made to explain why heads shouldn't roll for mismanagement.
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