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PIA Press Release

Thousands of NORECO 1 consumers enjoy P500 aid from PGMA

by Rachelle M. Nessia

Dumaguete City (20 February) -- More than 30,000 member-consumers of Negros Oriental Electric Cooperative I based in Bindoy town enjoyed a reprieve from their power bills through a cash subsidy from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's "Katas ng VAT Pantawid Kuryente" program.

Some 30,129 electric consumers from the 11 towns and cities served by NORECO I enjoyed the P500 power subsidy.

This was disclosed during an information campaign held by NORECO 1 officials together with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) here in La Libertad and Bais City on February 16 and 17, respectively.

The electric cooperative used the subsidy to offset the electric bills of the identified beneficiaries starting December last year.

Under the program, if a household-beneficiary's electric bill falls below P500, the balance will be credited to their power bill in the following month, explained Lynn Manlalangit, officer-in-charge of NORECO 1's Institutional Services Division.

Should a household consume more than P500 in their electric bill, they only need to pay the amount exceeding the P500 subsidy, she said.

The one-time P500 aid is granted exclusively to residential power consumers who use up to a maximum of 100 kilowatts of electricity a month.

The beneficiaries were identified based on a list submitted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) to the National Electrification Administration (NEA) in Manila.

NEA then verified the data using the May 2008 electric bill of NORECO 1 power consumers as basis.

Members who benefited from the subsidy are members and also non-members of the Barangay Power Association in the said areas.

NORECO I Officer-in-Charge Edmund Nochefranca said that the Katas ng Vat is the government's effort to help poor electric consumers in the country in response to high power costs.

An estimated 4 million families consuming a maximum of 100 kilowatt hour nationwide stand to benefit from the P500 direct assistance to the poor.

Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the launching of Katas ng VAT Pantawid Kuryente program said that the program aims to give back to the poor the benefits reaped from the implementation of the expanded value added tax (EVAT), specifically from the twelve percent VAT on petroleum products.

On the other hand, poor consumers under the Negros Oriental Electric Cooperative 2 based in Dumaguete City have yet to benefit from the power subsidy. "Ongoing pa ang process namo with NEA. But we target to implement it this year," said Ma. Cristina Tiongson, NORECO 2 Executive Assistant.

Recently, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo turned-over a total of Pl.5 million livelihood assistance, on top of 35 scholarship certificates, to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Mindanao who were retrenched due to the current global economic crisis.

The president said: "Prepare all retrenched engineers from the electronics sector for the business process outsourcing sector."

This was the assignment given by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Director-General Augusto Syjuco of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) President Oscar Sanez as the government prepares for the possible retrenchment of licensed engineers in the electronics sector in the face of the worsening global economic crisis. (PIA/rmn) [top]

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