Meralco refund: P 38 billion with CERA and interest
Written by the Agham Press Corps
Scientists join calls for immediate refund and rate rollback
Meralco’s refund is 10 billion pesos bigger when CERA and interest charges are included. Activist scientists from People Opposed to Warrantless Electric Rates (POWER) and the Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM) said that the erstwhile 28 billion pesos refund calculated last November has grown to around 38 billion pesos.
“We have to include CERA or the currency exchange rate adjustment because CERA is calculated based on the prevailing basic charge. If there is an overcharging on the basic charge, then it follows there is also an overcharging on the CERA. The CERA overcharge amounts to 1.102 billion pesos”, POWER convenor and AGHAM national chairperson Dr. Giovanni Tapang said.
“It requires only simple arithmetic to calculate this refund: multiply the kilowatt-hour consumption by X 0.167 pesos to get the basic overcharge, then add the CERA overcharge. The CERA overcharge is computed by multiplying the basic overcharge with the CERA which averages to around 4.97% since 1997 until March 2003”, Dr. Tapang added.
“Interest charges should also be added. Again, it is simple to compute this interest charge. If we use the 6% interest rate that Meralco applies on its customer deposits, over 9 years we calculate this to be around 6.85 billion pesos”, Engr. Ramon Ramirez, AGHAM member and POWER convenor explained. “The overcharge, interest and the CERA total P 37.99 billion: P 30.039 billion + P 6.851 billion + P 1.102 billion = P 37.994 billion”, Dr. Tapang summarized.
“Meralco should also immediately rollback power rates by 16.7 centavos. We believe that the ERC should take the cue from the Supreme Court and listen to the people in the refund implementation. POWER proposes four modes of refund: 1) lump sum cash 2) cash refund over 1-3 years; 3) deductions on electric bills over 1-3 years; or 4) a stock option; or a combination of these modes to make the refund easier for Meralco to implement”, Engr. Ramirez added.
“Residential customers should be given priority since they are the ones who need the cash in these times of crisis. The government should ensure that the people’s welfare be upheld in this refund and not the interests of a few or a big giant like Meralco”, Dr. Tapang concluded.