House panels call SocGen to PSALM receivables inquiry

TWO House committees conducting an investigation into the P95.4 billion uncollected receivables of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) have subpoenaed the Solicitor General to appear in the hearing.

The Committee on Public Accounts chaired by Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor and  Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability chaired by Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, want Solicitor General Jose Calida to testify on March 11.

The two committees have started a legislative inquiry into the P95.42 billion uncollected receivables of PSALM from some power companies.

The Solicitor General is also enjoined to provide the committees with “pertinent documents,” including the OSG’s “Motion for Leave to Intervene,” in connection with the uncollected P14.97 billion and P315.42 million from the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) and First Gen Hydro Power Corporation, respectively.

This move has been prompted by the failure of the OSG to attend the joint-hearings conducted on February 19 and 20 despite invitations.

It was during these hearings that representatives of several corporations -- most notably Meralco, which owes the government close to P15 billion -- manifested their willingness to immediately settle their obligations to PSALM but were unable to do so because of the motion to intervene filed by the OSG.

“While we welcome the move of those companies who have been persuaded to settle their accounts -- noting that these funds belong to the people and will go a long way in ensuring that the Philippine’s plan for energy sufficiency and sustainability becomes a reality -- there are still those who refuse to heed the President’s call to pay what they owe,” they said.

One of the biggest of these is South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC), a subsidiary of San Miguel Global Power Corporation.

SPPC owes PSALM P23.4 billion even as the power firm issued dividends to its investors in the amounts of P600 million in 2017, and P2 billion in 2018, based on its financial statements submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With the impending expiration of PSALM’s corporate life by 2026, there is an extreme urgency to collect the remaining billions of pesos in receivables immediately. Otherwise, the burden from its remaining obligations would be assumed by the government and ultimately passed on to the public.