Energy Undersecretary for Special Concerns Benito Ranque has said the government may consider expanding the lifeline subsidy to P800 per month for households consuming 100 kilowatt-hours per month for the first 100 days in office of incoming President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“I find it rather proper to expand the mechanics of lifeline subsidy from just P400, double it, why not make it P800 monthly subsidy per household consuming 100 kwh per month for the first 100 days in office of President-elect Ferdinand Marcos,” Ranque said Friday.
The lifeline rate subsidy is mandated under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 as among the support mechanisms to assist the electricity end-users who cannot pay for their electricity bills at full cost.
The said provision in the law was extended for another 10 years upon enactment of Republic Act 10150 from June 2011 to June 2021. In 2020, the lifeline rate was again extended up to 2041.
At the same time, Ranque said there might be no need to suspend excise and value-added tax (VAT) to bring down fuel and electricity costs, an energy official said.
Ranque said suspending VAT and excise tax on fuel and electricity required congressional deliberation and would affect government efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the public.
Ranque said the next administration would have to come up with a long-term program that would cut the cost of electricity by as much as 50 percent in the next five to six years.
He said the government could do this by empowering the small electric cooperatives.
“These electric cooperatives should be equipped with their own power plant, preferably renewable energy facilities. By doing so, we get to spare them from buying expensive electricity from the power generators and sell to their consumers,” Ranque said.
He said power firms could also exercise “compassion” to “relax” on their pricing to ease the burden on the public.
“We’ll ask energy companies which have been operating coal-fired power plants for a long time to relax their rates…Out of compassion and corporate social responsibility, I have this feeling they’d consider it,” said Ranque, who is said to be vying for the post of Energy Secretary.
He also said that prices of petroleum products might instantly be reduced by P3.26 per liter for gasoline and P1.40 per liter for diesel provided the 19th Congress enacts a legislative measure to suspend the Biofuels Act of 2006.