Jul 272013

MANILA, Philippines – A group of local industry supporters have asked the government to address the high power cost in the Philippines, noting that it is the highest in Asia.

“The cost of power, the highest in Asia, makes the Philippines uncompetitive, not only in manufacturing but also in all areas of the economy,” said the Philippine Employer-Labor Social Partnership, Inc. (PELSPI) in a position paper submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The group, which includes University of the Philippines labor professor Rene Ofreneo, said the high cost of power in the Philippines is threatening the growth potential of the booming call center sector.

“It is even threatening the viability of the booming call center/BPO sector.  In the electronics industry and other manufacturing industries, power accounts for one third of the total cost of production compared to less than 10 percent for payrolls,” the group said.

The group noted that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 failed to lower power cost and improve power service.

It urged the government to review the EPIRA and propose the necessary amendments.

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“A review and overhaul of the EPIRA program is urgent,” it said.

The group expressed support to the government’s efforts to reengineer a revival of Philippine manufacturing.

“With a stagnating industrial and agricultural base, the Philippines, the second most industrially-developed in Asia in the 1960s, has been left behind by our East and Southeast Asian neighbors,” it said.

The group urged NEDA to transform universities into research and development hubs with linkages to industries.

“Regional universities, especially state universities, should be required to forge appropriate linkages with industries and agriculture.  They should also take a leadership role in technology acquisition,” it said.

The group said the Agriculture and Trade departments should help push the country toward the “high road of industrial and agricultural development.”

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