BANGUED, Abra – Abra province is still groping in the dark after super howler “Lawin” felled electric posts all over the province, further adding up to the financial burden the Abra Electric Cooperative hounded by huge debts ballooning from P300M in the last three years to over P500 million.
Bangued, Abra’s capital might still get electricity on Wednesday, while the rest of the province in a few more days, while restoration work have been doubled said Abreco general manager Loreto Seares Jr.
Lawin’s damage on the distribution facility reached P60 million.
The Abreco management while trying its best efforts to overcome Lawin’s wrath, asked for more understanding from its more than 30,000 consumer-members.
Lately, Abreco traced its fiscal woes to financial abuses by its past management.
Though, the Department of Energy (DOE) under the present Duterte administration has formed a task force to resolve debt issues of ailing electric cooperatives (ECs) throughout the country.
The task force is composed of the DOE, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the local government units (LGUs).
While some blamed the present Abreco management for its precarious financial situation, even government records date back the roots of its debts a decade ago.
Documents obtained from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) other government agencies showed that Abreco started bleeding way back in 2005 with monthly losses averaging P250,000.
The new management only took over on October 2007.
The bulk of the multimillion debts were owed to PSALM, which inherited from the privatized Napocor on the strength of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
PSALM Board of Directors approved the condonation of Abreco’s mini-hydro and dendro-thermal loan P24,090,000.00 and P87,970,979.34 respectively or a total of P112,060,979.34 although it its final compliance it declared that Abreco’s total fund electrification loans from NEA recommended for condonation was P207,944.061.00. Hence, P88,983,082.00 remained uncondoned, thus remains as an outstanding obligation of the power cooperative and was inherited by the new administration including its interests.
With these multi-million mini-hydro and denro-hydro loans, member-consumers wonder where these went as accordingly, these were “ghost projects” of the cooperative’s past management.
From over P114 million in 2006, Abreco’s debts to PSALM grew to P335 million by 2014 and about P500 million in 2015. These were considered “power bills” to Napocor incurred from 1997-2007.
Accordingly also to government records, Abreco also borrowed P25 million from NEA in 2003 that grew to P35 million in January 2016 after it stopped paying its amortization including interests and surcharges since March 2007 when it registered to the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), as its old management’s strategy to “escape” from its obligations to NEA.
Abreco suffered power shutdowns in 2012, 2013 and 2014 owing to its accumulated unpaid bills and loan obligations.
The present management has since been on the receiving end of the fiscal flak of the power cooperative, also prompting “dirty politics” to come into play.
“We could weather it out if member-consumers band together and understand the roots of these problems and find solutions to plug such kinds of malpractices in running the cooperative,” said a member-consumer.
By Dexter A. See