|Photo via Casureco 3 Facebook account|
IRIGA CITY—As the embattled Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative (CASURECO III) continues to languish in debt, local leaders and stakeholders are eyeing concession as the solution to its woes.
Yesterday, Camarines Sur 5th District Rep. Salvio Fortuno called for an emergency meeting at Macagang Resort in Nabua town to discuss the major problems hounding the cooperative.
In attendance were former Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen, who represented her brother Mayor Ronald Felix Alfelor; Mayor Ernesto Bagasbas of Balatan; Donna Jardinel, who represented Mayor Rolando Canet of Bula; Mayor Jeanette Bernaldez of Bato; Mayor Delia Simbulan of Nabua; Mayor Mel Gaite of Baao; CASURECO III General Manager Jocelyn Orcine; and Board of Directors President Gilbert Villar.
Among the problems of the ailing cooperative is an Php80 million debt to San Miguel Electric Cooperative (SMEC), according to former Iriga City Mayor Madeleine Alfelor-Gazmen.
Said debt needed to be settled yesterday, March 24.
With no P80 million to pay the power supplier, the electric cooperative faced the possibility of disconnection.
SMEC, however, opted to defer the disconnection in favor of a discernment period, which will end on March 28.
On or before said date, CASURECO III will have to present its decision to the power supplier.
As a consequence of the postponement, however, CASURECO III’s P80 million debt will balloon to P150 million by March 28.
Pushed against the wall, the group settled on choosing between two options: the first, an investment management contract (IMC), and second, concession.
With an IMC, SMEC will be allowed to handle the management, but the assets will remain with the cooperative.
Meanwhile, with concession, the cooperative will be surrendered completely to a private corporation.
Such corporation will likely be SMEC, as it has the financial capacity to solve CASURECO III’s problems, and because the cooperative has the aforementioned debt to it.
SMEC, it was said during the meeting, favors the second option.
In the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting earlier this month, the group considered eight options, including joint venture, management contract, operation and maintenance contract, special equipment and material lease agreement, merger, and consolidation.
Apart from the outstanding debt, CASURECO III is plagued by the problems of receivables and systems loss.
No objection to the idea of concession was registered from the Board of Directors and the local leaders during the meeting.
Mayor Rey Lacoste, who earlier proposed his own plans for his town of Buhi, conceded to the decision of the group.
Lacoste, it would be recalled, suggested that the local government unit (LGU) could find a temporary way to guarantee that the suppliers will be paid.
Businessman Solomon Ngo, also previously suggested a government takeover of the cooperative.
Meanwhile, University of Saint Anthony (USANT) President Atty. Santiago Ortega earlier this month, voiced out his interest to enter in the power market to provide competition to the cooperative.
After the local leaders and the Board of Directors arrived at a consensus, the next step would be to collect 3,500 signatures from member-consumers.
Such signatures would declare that CASURECO III is choosing the option of concession. These will come from the five towns and one city serviced by CASURECO III.
Reports said that 3,500 is the minimum number of signatures needed to support the privatization.
The signatures will be collected in the afternoon of March 28, when an Annual General Membership Assembly is scheduled at the Iriga City Coliseum.
All mayors who favored the remedy were in unison to convince their constituents to sign the declaration that they accede to the privatization.
The signatories are required to be bona fide member-consumers in good standing of the electric cooperative.—by Junjun Oyales, BICOLSTANDARD.COM Pirming enot. Pirming bago.