ERC taps third-party auditor for MERALCO refunds

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Auditing firm Roxas Cruz Tagle and Co. was tapped by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as its consultant for a planned audit of various refunds that the commission ordered the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) to do over the years.

The audit includes the return to customers of billions of pesos in meter deposits, bill deposits, and income taxes.

In a statement, the ERC said it found it best to engage the services of a consultant with the technical expertise and capability to conduct an independent audit and verification of all of MERALCO’s refunds, given the “limitations of its existing organizational structure and manpower complement vis-à-vis its expanded mandates in regulating and transforming the electric power industry.”

The ERC approved the recommendation of its bids and awards committee to award the contract for the refund audit to Roxas Cruz Tagle and Co. for having submitted the Highest Rated and Responsive Bid.

“The Commission is of the view that regulation must be borne by the government so we have allocated a budget for the engagement of an independent consultant,” ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera said.

With this development, the quasi-judicial body abandoned its earlier plan to seek the Commission on Audit’s help for this effort, given that the ERC was short on personnel to undertake the said audit.

Consumer welfare advocacy group Power for People Coalition had noted that MERALCO, the country’s largest power utility, should return to customers a total of Php47.4 billion. Of the said amount, Php28.2 billion accounts for bill deposits, while the remaining Php19.1 billion is for all other refunds, including interests incurred.

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