Mindanao traders complain about rising power bills

Published by rudy Date posted on March 23, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Mindanao-based businessmen are complaining that their electricity bill has gone up despite the five to six hours brownout a day.

As a result, the cost of doing business in the area has skyrocketed because aside from the higher than normal electricity bill, they still need to use diesel fueled generators to generate their own power.

Local businessmen are asking the government to remove the excise tax on diesel to help mitigate the adverse effect of the power crisis in the region.

“The cost of doing business here in Mindanao have gone up because we are now generating our own power,” Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) vice president for Mindanao Edwin Capili told The Star.

In a telephone interview, Capili said that the power crisis has affected many industries. He identified the construction industry, hospitality and tourism and retailers as the main businesses affected by the power crisis.

In the construction industry, he said there are reports that working hours of employees are being cut because electricity is needed to power the equipment. “Productivity here have gone down.”

According to Capili, although they appreciate the calamity fund which is set to be released in Mindanao, they need to know where the money will be used. “We are not sure because the money might all go to the saving of agriculture products affected by the El Niño,” Capili said.

If this is the case, then Capili said that it will not help Mindanao counter the negative effects of the crisis because the money will go primarily to agriculture area and not power generation. “We are now scheduling interviews with the various local government units in order to find out their plan for the region.”

Capili said that the power crisis is an added burden to business operators because they need to buy diesel in order to provide electricity for themselves. For instance, he said that the diesel price in Mindanao ranges between P37 and P38 per liter. He said an average business consumes a minimum of 10 liters per day. On top of this additional cost, the power rates have gone up.

“We are now buying diesel and the power costs have gone up. We thought that because of the brownouts our power bill will go down but this was not the case,” Capili said. He added that he received news that power rates can even increase further. “We heard that the price may more than double.” In Mindanao, electricity rate is at P6 per kilowatt hout. He said it may go up to P14/kwh.

On the upside, after enduring the crisis for over a month, Capili reported that no business have shut down in the area. However, he said that this may not be the case if the crisis extends until June. “Right now we are just coping.” –Ma. Elisa P. Osorio (The Philippine Star)

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