Agus, Pulangui hydro plants may not be privatized – MinDA

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Aug) – The Agus and Pulangui Hydropower Complexes will no longer be privatized if both the Senate and the House of Representatives will pass a measure creating a Mindanao Power Corporation (Minpocor), a government-owned power corporation (GOPC) that will manage the power assets of the state.

Romeo Montenegro, director for investment promotion and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), told “Wednesdays’ Habi at Kape” at the Abreeza Mall that the Minpocor will take over the management of Agus and Pulangui as an alternative entity of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities (PSALM) that manages the two power plants at present.

“Minpocor will manage for rehabilitation, reforestation, and other projects that it is allowed to implement,” he said.

Montenegro said that the proposed measure, which is a consolidated version of the four different bills authored by four different House members, will be re-filed in the Lower House after it failed to pass in the previous 16th Congress. Once passed, he said no more bidding will take place.

“In terms of steps, we are looking at the refiling of the harmonized bill in Congress and refiling of the counterpart bill in the Senate,” he said.

Montenegro said the 1-Care Partylist is expected to re-file the bill as the main author.

He explained that the bill had to take a backseat during the last congress when the House gave more time deliberating the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), an enabling mechanism of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Montenegro said the PSALM will still push through with the bidding of Agus and Pulangui next year, pending the passage of the bill.

“Year 2017 is the maturation of the PSALM’s loan obligation, so it needs to have proceeds from assets. It’s corporate life ends in 2026,” he said.

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) excluded Agus-Pulangui from the privatization for 10 years from the time it was enacted in 2001. The PSALM then scheduled that it be privatized at least by 2017.

“All remaining assets that are not yet privatized and disposed of, PSALM has to complete all those before it closes down its existence. Kung mauna ang Minpocor bago ang 2017, wala na kailangan i-privatize si PSALM (If the Minpocor comes before 2017, therefore there’s nothing to privatize),” he said.

But when Congress passes into law the Minpocor bill, he said the GOPC will buy out the hydro power plants from PSALM, using the funds from a government loan and a subsidy from the Malampaya funds to prevent the impression from the private bidders that Minpocor gets the two power assets for free.

The buying price of Agus and Pulangui, he said, is placed at over P50 billion.

He said the scheme is also favorable for PSALM so that “it will still earn the money that it is expected to earn out of the sale of Agus and Pulangui.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)]