Lopez Holdings

 

Lopez Group head says completion of EPIRA reforms, lower taxes on power industry can ease electricity rates Lopez Group chairman Oscar M. Lopez said the completion of reforms under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and a review of taxes on the power industry may help reduce electricity rates in the country.


Speaking before members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Lopez noted that as the electricity sector shifts from being predominantly government-owned to being in private ownership, the transition will not be easy as some quarters resist and favor the status quo.

"But the reforms (under EPIRA) have to be relentlessly pushed towards completion in order to work…The worst thing we can do today as a country is to waffle indecisively as to whether we should have gone this route in the first place. Restarting the legislative process by amending the law while crossing midstream is the surest way to drown and mire the economy in another power crisis," he said.

Lopez urged the government to take the power reforms to completion and make the industry attractive to investments. "The more vibrant the competition, the better the chances for reducing power costs and subsidies from government." He added that the country's efforts in making power rates more competitive will benefit from the removal of taxes and royalties "that gravely penalize the use of indigenous fuels." Lopez traced much of the tariff structure to Marcos-era Presidential Decrees that provide revenues to government but serve to make already expensive power even more so.

"If we clamor to have cheaper power rates, why do we tax it so heavily in the first place?," Lopez quipped.

The Lopez Group through First Gen Corporation is seeking to be a key partner of government in making power reforms work. "The Philippines is at the forefront of power reforms in Asia…I believe this is something our country can be proud of…Making power costs in the Philippines one of the most competitive in the world once again remains our overriding goal," Lopez said.

Committed to help in national development, First Gen has participated in almost every major privatization of the government under EPIRA, winning two 2 hydroelectric plants: Agusan (1.6 megawatts) and Pantabangan-Masiway (112 MW).

Lopez also disclosed that environmental stewardship remains to be the linchpin of First Gen's corporate social responsibility efforts, leading it to make the right environmental choices in order to make power generation sustainable. "This is our home, this is where our loved ones live and this is where we'll stay all our lives. Those beliefs and convictions as a Filipino-owned power company are what make us different from every single foreign power investor that has come to invest in this country. We in the Lopez group are proud of that," he concluded.

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Lopez Holdings Corporation 
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