Congress approves DOE’s 2018 budget

MANILA � The Philippine Congress on Thursday approved the Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed budget of PHP2.65 billion for fiscal year 2018.

Speaking before the House of Representatives' committee on appropriations, chaired by Rep. Karlo Nograles, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi presented the department's strategic directions in line with the Ambisyon 2040 vision of the Duterte administration.

Our 2018 budget of PHP2.65 billion will be used for our service of the Filipino people under our five bureaus and three field offices and in carrying out our mandate under the various laws that we administer, such as the DOE Act, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), Renewable Energy Law, Oil Deregulation Law, Coal Development Act and the Oil Exploration Development Act, among others, Cusi explained.

Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella gave a detailed explanation of how this amount will be used, elaborating on the DOE's strategic directions for 2017-2040, which are mainly to ensure energy security; expand energy access; promote a low-carbon future; strengthen collaboration among government agencies involved in energy; implement, monitor and integrate sectoral and technological roadmaps and action plans; pass the department's legislative agenda; look after consumer welfare; and foster international relations and partnerships.

Attached agencies which appeared before the appropriations committee included the National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Power Corp. (Napocor), National Transmission Corp. (TransCo), Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), Philippine National Oil Corp. (PNOC), and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The energy chief was asked to explain not only about the proposed budget but also about other matters, including the discontinued e-tricycle project and the reported PHP25 billion from the Malampaya fund that has yet to be accounted for, according to Rep. Harry Roque.

Cusi explained that although the DOE proposes the use of the Malampaya fund for energy projects, it is merely a collecting agency for the government treasury and is not knowledgeable on how the funds are used.

For his part, Rep. Antonio Tinio urged the energy chief and the DOE to find alternatives to the Malampaya natural gas facility, which the DOE foresees would be depleted by 2020.

After more than four hours of intense questioning by the committee members, the proposed budget of the DOE was approved.

The energy family has always been working hard to serve the needs of the people. With the additional budget, the more we are going to pursue this goal, Cusi said.

Also present during the hearing were Representatives Celso Lobregat, Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo, Napoleon Dy, Vicente Veloso, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Allen Jesse Mangaoang.

Source: Philippine News Agency