Bangued, Abra – Huge debts of the beleaguered Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) ballooning from P300M in the last three years to over P500 million now is being traced to financial abuses by its past management.
This, as the Department of Energy (DOE) under the present Duterte administration, formed a task force to resolve debt issues of ailing electric cooperatives.
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 these debts a decade ago.
Documents obtained from the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and other government agencies showed that Abreco started bleeding way back in 2005 with monthly losses averaging P250,000.
The new management only took over in October 2007.
The bulk of the multi-million debt is owed to PSALM, which inherited it from the privatized National Power Corporation 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 loans in the amounts of P24,090,000 and P87,970,979.34 respectively, or a total of P112,060,979.34 although in its final compliance, it declared that Abreco’s total fund electrification loans from NEA recommended for condonation was P207,944.061. Hence, P88,983,082.00 remained uncondoned and remains as an outstanding obligation of the power cooperative inherited by the new administration.
With these multi-million mini-hydro and dendro-hydro loans, member-consumers wonder where these went as 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 with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), the then 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