COTABATO CITY— In its bid to protect the consumers and business owners, the Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism (MTIT) initiated a round-table discussion on April 7 to address pressing issues of the Maguindanao Electric Cooperative (MAGELCO).
“As part of our mandate in protecting our consumers, we hold this meeting to discuss the issue and find solution as ways forward,” said MTIT Deputy Minister Atty. Sukarno Abas.
During the discussion, poor collection efficiency, with only 17%, emerged as the primary bottleneck of MAGELCO that resulted into massive load curtailment across its service areas.
“The standard collection efficiency set by National Electrification Administration (NEA) is at least 95%,” MAGELCO Project Supervisor Bienvenida Tongol disclosed.
Based on the report shared by MAGELCO, it has P1.5-billion accounts receivable accrued from its four substation located in Simuay, Salbu, Ampatuan, and Capiton HQ.
Subsequently, the electric cooperative has an accounts payable of more than P3-billion with the biggest chunk owed to Power Sectors Assets & Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) while the rest was owed to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Due to this problem, the electric cooperative struggled to settle their obligation to power generation company where they sourced their electricity.
On top of the financial issue, Tongol also shared that some of their electric equipment were refurbished, and unlike other cooperatives which have at least two to four power suppliers, MAGELCO only has one.
Pilferage or illegal connection also caused a major setback to the electric cooperative as this account to 8.92% system loss which is then shouldered by those legitimate consumers.
Right now, MAGELCO only gets 6MW from their power supplier compared to the peak demand of 22MW.
These problems rolled into one resulted to electric shortage affecting small households to large industrial plants and hampered business activities.
Selahuddin Hashim of Bangsamoro Chamber of Commerce shared that around 5,000 legitimate business owners are affected by the crisis.
“I would suggest to form a taskforce to help MAGELCO in resolving this issue. On our part, we can also help as we have our own mechanism to handle our members,” Hashim appealed.
He underscored that the load curtailment caused high production cost and lower productivity in the business sector.
As ways forward, MTIT Director-General Rosslaini Alonto-Sinarimbo suggested that MAGELCO should explore the use of fintech (financial technology) as other method of collection.
“We have a contact with a fintech company and we’re willing to have a talk with them to discuss the possibilities,” she said.
As the meeting concluded, it was recommended that a Technical Working Group (TWG) shall be formed to deeply study the root causes of the problem and implement a definite solution.
MTIT Minister Abuamri Taddik, representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE), and other stakeholders also attended the discussion.(Abdullah Matucan/BIO)