Sen. Chiz Escudero rejected calls for the government to reacquire the 40 percent stake of Chinese investors in the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the country’s transmission operator.
Escudero expressed his reluctance to support the move until a comprehensive evaluation and thorough study of the case had been conducted.
“I don’t support it. Not until I read the fine print and subject it to a thorough study,” Escudero said.
He said “policy U-turns can be destabilizing and surely expensive.”
“How much would this buyback cost? Do we even have the money given our huge debt? Are the current owners selling or will this be a forced sale? These are some of the questions that need answers,” Escudero said.
NGCP is 40% percent owned by the State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC), a business entity owned by the Chinese government, while the remaining 60% is owned by a group of Filipino businessmen led by bilyonaryos Henry “Big Boy” Sy and Robert Coyiuto Jr.
It started operations as a power transmission service provider in 2009 under a Congressionally-granted 50-year franchise.
Escudero questioned the capability of the state to run the NGCP, which is now being blamed for the power outages in various parts of the country, noting that the government’s failure in the past led to the privatization of the agency.
“Is there a formal finding from regulators that it’s NGCP’s fault other than mere finger pointing? Does anyone honestly think that the government can run NGCP better than the private sector?” Escudero asked.
He said there should be an “expert determination” on the role of NGCP in “power outages and shortages .“
“Kung power generation ang problema, are we not applying the wrong solution? Baka naman instead of finding solutions, we’re looking for convenient scapegoats, “ he said
“‘Been there, done that’ na tayo diyan and the Napocor and the NGCP, at that time, racked up hundreds of billions of pesos of debts which we are paying up to now,” he said.
Escudero cautioned against “renationalization” or reacquiring of properties formerly owned by the government, saying it might discourage foreign investors from doing business in the country.
“The renationalization of formerly-owned sold state assets is a policy that the national government should be very careful about or should be more circumspect about as it might send a wrong signal to existing ang potential investors,” Escudero said.