Several congressmen have expressed support, as well as opposition to the extension of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation’s (PSALM) corporate life.
At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, House Committee on Ways and Means chairman and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said allowing PSALM’s corporate life to expire would result in “serious fiscal consequences” for the government.
Salceda, an economist, particularly pointed out that the government would have to shoulder up to Php198 million in debts from PSALM’s liabilities if ceases to exist in five years’ time.
Lawmakers were deliberating on House Bill 10006, filed by House Committee on Energy chairman and Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, which seeks to extend PSALM’s corporate life for 50 more years beyond June 26, 2026 — its original expiration date.
Established by virtue of Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in 2001, PSALM was given a 25-year corporate life.
Having assumed the assets and liabilities of debt-ridden National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) at the time, PSALM’s main task is to privatize NAPOCOR’s various properties.
Recently, it was able to sell the 650-megawatt (MW) Malaya Thermal Power Plant in Pililla, Rizal and Isla De Provisor, the site of the old Manila Thermal Power Plant, in Paco, Manila.
PSALM is now in the process of privatizing the 165MW Casecnan Hydroelectric Power Plant in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija; the site of the old 225MW Bataan Thermal Power Plant in Limay, Bataan; and the NAPOCOR complex in Diliman, Quezon City, among others.
On the other hand, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives Rep. Sergio Dagooc opposed PSALM’s extension.
Zarate questioned why the government-owned firm should be given five more decades when it was not able to privatize everything it needed to do for nearly all of its existence. Dagooc, for his part, said PSALM is not the appropriate agency to manage the rehabilitation of the 982MW Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complex (APHC).
While Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Rep. Presley De Jesus supports PSALM’s extension, he also expressed alarm over APHC’s possible privatization, which has also been opposed by the Mindanao Development Authority.