BAYAN MUNA HITS TRIPLE WHAMMY PRICE HIKES ON OIL, POWER, AND WATER
Group says government policy of deregulation and privatization to blame, calls on Pres. Aquino to step in
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares today hit the triple whammy of price hikes on oil, power and water saying that it is the government policy of deregulation, privatization and liberalization is the root cause of this price hikes.
“Take the case of oil firms, they are so fast to jack up oil prices but are so slow to roll back. Why should there be another big time oil price hike when oil companies have a buffer stock that was purchased when the price was lower? Worse oil prices are decreasing in the international market but it is increasing here,” said Senior Deputy Minority Leader Colmenares.
The progressive solon issued the statement as oil companies is again set to implement a big time oil price hike even as oil prices fell in Asian trading hours last week after the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that global oil prices will recover only partially over the next five years, analysts said.
News reports say that US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery fell 68 cents to $52.18, while Brent crude for March eased 80 cents to $57.54 in morning trade.
“Besides the rollbacks they implemented then was not even right because some industry insiders are saying that it should be P1-2 more. Given this situation and government is also slow in lowering the prices of basic commodities services and transportation so it is the consumers are always at the losing end. This is the reason why the oil industry should be regulated to prevent this type of price manipulation and added burden to consumers,” said Rep. Colmenares.
WHERE IS THE COLLUSION REPORT ON OVERPRICING OF ELECTRICITY?
“Add to this the impending power rate hike and water rate hikes then consumers are again given another burden. As for the impending power rate hike, we have yet to get the full report of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the collusion investigation of generation companies (gencos) which is long overdue but Meralco is again using the same reasoning of simultaneous plant outages as the reason for the increase. Again this would not have happened if government effectively regulates the power industry and if it owns a significant number of power plants to have a say in the market and so that consumers would be held hostage by power players,” he said.
“Meanwhile the looming water rate hike of Maynilad and the potential adjustment of Manila Water’s tariffs as a result of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) decision will come on top of another rate hike approved by the MWSS last December.
“Maynilad and Manila Water last month started implementing higher water rates to cover foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA), which will be reflected on the customers’ bills this month. This would not have happened if the water industry was not privatized by government,” said Rep. Colmenares.
“Also in other businesses, they are the ones who absorb bad business decisions and business risks like the foreign currency differential adjustment (FCDA) and pay their own taxes but these water concessionaires are raking in billions by fooling us. They even pass to consumers losses due to changes in foreign exchange rates. But in this case, the concessionaires borrow from foreign creditors without any qualms knowing that they are insulated from the risk ordinary borrowers take because they’re allowed to pass on their forex losses to their consumers. It is like having their cake and eating it, too. Sa kuryente nga e nagrereklamo tayo sa paniningil sa atin ng systems loss pero dito mismong buwis na nga ng kinita nila ang sinisingil pa sa atin,” “This shows that privatization is wrong and the practice of automatic pass through of forex losses should not be allowed by government”, explained Rep. Colmenares.
“Manila Water and Maynilad must first refund billions of pesos it collected from the public for still unimplemented water projects before it could talk about increase water charges. Among these projects is the P5.4 billion Angat Water Reliability, and the P45.3 billion Laiban dam projects,” added the progressive solon.
“As it is, deregulation, privatization and liberalization have been proven to a bane to consumers and should be reversed. We should act now and Congress should fast track the measures to stop these destructive and lopsided economic measures before it wreaks more havoc on the lives of the Filipino people,” said Rep. Colmenares.
AQUINO CALLED TO STEP IN
“These impending rate increases could be stopped if Pres. Aquino will abandon his privatization and deregulation policies while at the same time intervene and warn these companies of their liabilities should they be involved in price manipulation or unjust rate increases. The fact that the Aquino administration has allowed prices of basic commodities to remain high despite the decreasing oil price only shows its lack of concern for consumers. In the end, the government is the one to blame for persisting in the discredited privatization and deregulation policies which allows these rate increases to the detriment of the public,” ended the Senior Deputy Minority Leader.###