Earning brownie points at Meralco’s expense

Members of the Government Service Insurance System should sue Winston Garcia for outright stupidity. And for acting against their best interest.

GSIS takes “contributions” from government employees every month, and GSIS invests these so that it can provide pension and death benefits to its members and their beneficiaries. GSIS holds a stake at the electricity distribution monopoly. A company declares dividends (in cash or stock) when a company has surplus earnings. So whenever Meralco declares dividends, the GSIS earns.

meralco logoThat is why I am astounded by Garcia’s complaint that the Meralco rates are high, and that Meralco is overcharging its customers. See news reports here (ABS-CBN), here (GMA), and here (PDI).

As general manager of GSIS, Garcia’s primary concern should be the money of its members. His main tasks are to ensure that the members’ funds are in good hands, invest these funds soundly, and pay benefits on time. In short, he works for the interests of GSIS members. Isn’t it for the best interests of GSIS members if Meralco pays high dividends? Will it not benefit GSIS members if there is a large return on investment (ROI)?

As a member of Meralco’s Board of Directors, Garcia has a say on Meralco’s direction. And if he claims that the government owns 35% of Meralco, they why did he and other government directors allow Meralco to operate as it is operating now? And if he claims that Meralco is deliberately witholding documents from him, why can’t he just oust the current management team instead of saber rattling in the media?

I don’t think his comparison between Meralco and VECO should even be given credence. Unless he can prove that Meralco and VECO are both apples, the comparison is unfair. Besides, who owns VECO? Read this:

VECO is owned and managed by the Aboitiz and Garcia families of Cebu.

And Winston is part of that Garcia families. So there.

I agree that electricity rates are high. There are many factors to consider why we have high rates, and one of them is the high cost of crude oil. To that, we can’t do anything; it’s market forces at work. Also, your electricity bill includes VAT. So technically, you are being VATed several times on just one bill: oil is subject to VAT, electricity is subject to VAT, even systems loss is subject to VAT.

And there, this regime can do something, but it won’t. It can reduce the VAT rate to 10%, but it won’t. Because the finances of this regime depends on the taxes that we all pay. So it wants Meralco to lower its rates; I suggest that this regime instead revert the VAT rate for oil and power to 10%. Asa pa ko.

What the regime did was to lower Napocor’s rates. Did you know why we had RVAT? The law that slapped us 12% tax on almost everything we buy? Back in 2004, as par of her win-at-all-costs strategy, Gloria Arroyo lowered Napocor’s rates. The net effect was ballooning of Napocor’s debts, most of which were guaranteed by the government. It brought about budget deficit, and to cover such deficit, we got 12% VAT. Currently, Napocor’s debt is worth half a trillion pesos, which we poor Pinoys are paying through our taxes. And lowering such rates will not help easing that debt. Short-term, we might have a lower electricity bill, but long-term, we are burying three generations of Pinoys in debt.

Meralco should instead counter the regime’s propaganda with transparency. Open its books without reservation and qualification. If it has nothing to hide, it should have nothing to fear. But wait. The truth shall not set you free here in this country. Just ask all of those whistleblowers out there.

I suggest you read Tongue In, Anew’s Meralco v. Mafia for a technical background on Meralco’s current political woes. It should also give you some insight on the regime’s (and its factotums Garcia, Ermita, Bunye, etc) possible motivation for attacking Meralco.

7 thoughts on “Earning brownie points at Meralco’s expense

  1. Thanks, Arbet. Despite the length of my post, would you believe it’s less than half of the whole story which, if I ever get to blog all of it, would tie it all up – with Comelec computerization, NBN-ZTE, China-Spratlys deal, and the Oil and gas industry, sea and airports – in one neat package?

  2. Pingback: Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Blog Archive » The Omen

  3. It cuts both ways. If you demand transparency from Meralco, surely it is only fair to demand it from this regime, right?

    Just ask Winston Garcia. Just read all of those letters to editors from poor GSIS pensioners. Call a spade a spade.

    We should demand lower prices from Meralco, yes. But we should also demand that this regime do its job. Via ERC, it allowed Meralco to charge us. Blame Meralco if you must, but Meralco couldn’t have done it without this regime’s approval.

  4. did you now that Sen. Serge osmenia the authored of EPIRA law that charged the system loss to consumer is a son in law of Albertito Lopez of (Meralco) and the ERC Comite si Sony Osmenia, (1998)

  5. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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