By CHRISTIAN WAKEFIELD
THE tourism sector in Cebu has urged the government to intervene in the implementation of the power rate hike, with Visayas having the highest rate, and urged the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to moderate the increase.
Hotel, Restaurants, Resorts Association of Cebu (HRRAC) President Marco Protacio said the increase of electricity rate should be reconsidered by Napocor because the tourism sector could not bear the 20 percent increase that will be implemented next week.
“We are not against the increase but we want reasonable rate. The 20 percent is too much to bear,” said Protacio during the weekly 888 News Forum at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel yesterday, as he urged Napocor to present the for mula in computing the rate of increase.
Hanz Hauri, HRRAC officer on power increase, said the 20 percent increase could force businesses and establishments to close down considering that the world is still in a recession.
“Why punish an industry that is currently flying? We don’t have the luxury of firing people but we might be forced to do so to cushion the impact of the increase,” said Hauri, who is also the general manager of Marco Polo Plaza Hotel.
HRRAC is asking Napocor to reconsider implementation of the increase in moderation. Hauri said the increase should be implemented in small intervals within two years and not within 14 days.
Presidential Assistant for Central Visayas Felix Guanzon, who was one of the guests in the forum, said he would inquire from Napocor the formula used in computing the increase. He will also check on the status of the power plant in Naga, Cebu, which has made the electricity rate in the Visayas higher than the other regions.
The HRRAC will be sending their position to the Office of the President and would ask Tourism Secretary Ace Durano to get involved in the plight of the tourism sector in Cebu.
Earlier, the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7, acting on the motion of the Cebu business community, approved a motion asking the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to defer the implementation of the power rate increase in Central Visayas until July of 2010.
During its full council meeting in Siquijor, the RDC 7, chaired by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, approved the motion raised by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Regional Vice Governor Robert Go who requested that the implantation of the increase by carried out on a staggered basis.
Go said the increase should be implemented in four installments with an increment of six months considering that businesses and industries have been affected by the global financial crisis, forcing industries to shut down operations or lay off workers.
Last February 16, ERC gave the Napocor provisional authority to increase its basic generation rate by P1.15 per kilowatt hour kwH.
ERC also approved Napocor rate adjustments in Luzon and Mindanao at P0.4682 per kilowatt hour (kWh) and P0.7147 per kWh respectively.
The Visayas has a higher power rate increase compared to Luzon and Mindanao.