Saturday, February 9, 2013

Manila Electric Company's (Meralco) Prepaid Electricity Scheme

Labor groups expressed opposition to three current developments on electricity in a press briefing Wednesday.

The Lanao Power Consumer Federation (Lapocof), Laban ng Mamamayan para sa Katotohanan at Katarungan (Lampara) and umbrella labor rights group Nagkaisa signified their aversion toward the Manila Electric Company's (Meralco) Prepaid Electricity Scheme, House Bill 6214 that aims to reform the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and proposed increase in electrical charges.

With the Prepaid Electricity Scheme, Meralco said it aims to give consumers control over their electrical bills. It was pilot tested in Binangonan and Taytay, Rizal and then moved on to Pasig City.

Prepaid load will be available for P100, P200, P300, P500 and P1000.

Sr. Eva Arcos of Lampara, however, the scheme is anti-labor as it will result in unemployment among bill collectors, branch officers and linemen, whose services will not be necessary anymore.

She stressed that electricity is not just a consumer good but is also a basic right of every Filipino, therefore it is the obligation of Meralco and the government to make sure that the need for this is met.

On the other hand, Joshua Mata of Nagkaisa expressed opposition to House Bill 6214, otherwise known as "An Act Strengthening The National Electrification Administration Further Amending For The Purpose Presidential Decree No. 269, As Amended, Otherwise Known As The "National Electrification Administration Decree".

HB 6214 is being pushed by the NEA with the aim to reform the organization for a more effective administration.

Mata, however, said the bill is considered a threat to the rights and welfare of 8 million consumers getting electricity from electric cooperatives.

According to Mata, if HB 6214 is passed into law, NEA will have the power to remove workers from electric cooperatives and to have the last say in collective bargaining agreements that are supposed to be under the authority of the Department of Labor.

Meanwhile, Dr. Melchie J. Ambalong of Lapocof spoke against the proposed increase in electrical charges.

A 39-centavo increase was proposed by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) as a payment for stranded universal charges. Sixty percent of revenues coming from the charges will serve as a payment for left over contracts that the government entered.

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