Government mulls night shift for Mindanao businesses to balance power load

Published by rudy Date posted on March 29, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – To avoid job losses in Mindanao because of the power crisis, the government is looking at shifting the working hours of Mindanao businesses at night in order to balance the power demand.

However, the Mindanao chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said that shifting the working hours in the evening is costlier, and could result in job losses.

In an interview over the weekend, Trade Secretary Jesli A. Lapus said that they would like to move the working hours in Mindanao from morning to maybe nine in the evening. “In an attempt to increase power supply, we would like to balance the load of electricity.”

Mindanao has been experiencing five to 12-hour blockouts daily.

“There is no longer defined peaks and valleys during shortage because everybody uses up power when available,” Ralph Paguio, president of the Cagayan de Oro chamber of Commerce told The STAR.

For his part, PCCI vice president for Mindanao Edwin Capili said that the scheme will not work because majority of business in Mindanao can only be operated in the morning. “We have very few factories here in Mindanao unlike Luzon,” Capili said.

He noted that malls cannot operate only at night because nobody would buy from them and they need to work in the morning. The resorts also would have to operate for 24 hours and not just at night. Meanwhile, he said the construction companies need sunlight.

“Maybe this will be applicable in Northern Mindanao where the cement and pineapple plantations are but it really will not be practicable for any other industries,” Capili explained. “There is not much manufacturing facilities here unlike Luzon our main business is agriculture and fisheries and you cannot move that at night.”

“This is a very simplistic approach,” Capili said.

In Iligan meanwhile, Roy Trinidad, past president of the Iligan Chamber of Commerce said that practically all manufacturing plants in the province run three shifts round the clock. “To operate during night time only will result in lay off or rotations basis,” Trinidad told The STAR.

“We recommend to fully operate Northern Mindanao Power Corp and create an inspection team to actually check the Lanao water level,” he added.

The General Santos Chamber of Commerce president Pilar Afuang agreed and said that renting a 30-megawatt generator is cheaper than the deloading scheme. “I don’t think the canneries will agree to work only at night,” Afuang said. Also, she said they would have to think of operating the cold storage which should be continues for 24 hours.

Lapus told reporters that at least until June or when the El Niño ends, they would like to move the manufacturing activities in Mindanao at night. He added that this will not mean an additional cost to business owners because the Department of Labor and Employment have already agreed to waive the night differential in Mindanao. –Ma. Elisa P. Osorio (The Philippine Star)

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