Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Senator Sherwin Gatchalian expressed his concern that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) proposed budget for the country’s total electrification program (TEP) could only end up as ‘pork.’
“We’ve been allocating billions of pesos to NEA and DOE for its electrification program and still, they always fail to meet their yearly targets. What concerns me even more is how these agencies spend their budget since they still don’t have a defined and cohesive strategy on how they will pursue this program,” Gatchalian was quoted as saying in a Manila Bulletin report.
The senator cited a 2018 Commission on Audit (COA) report and noted that of the total 450,000 households targeted for full electrification, the DOE, even with a P2.35-B budget, was able to achieve only 77,121 or 17.41 percent of the target households. Furthermore, NEA was only able to generate electricity to only 705 out of 1,259 target areas as of September 30.
At present, DOE is pushing for a P2.3-B budget for 2020, P500-M of which will be allotted to the national electrification program. NEA, on the other hand, is pushing for a P14.147-B budget for next year, allotting P1.5-B for its TEP and Sitio Electrification Program (SEP).
Gatchalian demanded the agency to present their comprehensive national unified strategy in pursuing the country’s total electrification agenda to account for every centavo spent on the program.
“Kung mayroon sana tayong national unified strategy for electrification and bawat taxpayers sa bansa ay hindi mangangamba kung ang pera nila ay ginagamit lamang na slush fund ng dalawang ahensya,” Gatchalian stated in the report.
Gatchalian noted that having a national unified strategy means, among others, identifying the number of places to be electrified, budget allocation for each area, the total number of households targeted for each timeline for electrification of chosen barangays, and mode of electrification for each sitio.
“Again, this is very elementary information that we need in order to achieve our goal of 100-percent electrification. It is very difficult to allocate a big amount without a strategy,” Gatchalian stressed out.