National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s lone power transmission service provider, is “losing money” because it cannot raise its rates to pay for higher salary rates and bankroll its expansion programs, according to its top-ranking official.
Francis Chua, member of the NGCP Board, declared during a forum at the Kamuning Bakery Café on Saturday, Sept. 30, that contrary to reports, the power transmission company is actually “losing money.”
“NGCP is losing money because the Energy Regulatory Commission refused to allow NGCP to raise rates,” said Chua.
“For the first time in history, NGCP lost money. Everybody thought that NGCP is making tons and tons of money, that is not true. I sit in the board, we are losing,” he further said.
Chua said that the salaries of workers have been increased and he advised the company not to hire workers anymore as the ERC refused to allow them to adjust rates that they plan to use to pay for salaries and to bankroll expansion programs.
NGCP is 40 percent owned by Chinese investors in partnership with Filipino partners.
Chua, however, did not divulge the alleged losses that NGCP has incurred, but expects clarity on their financial status after their forthcoming board meeting. “We have another board meeting coming up,” he said.
He lamented that “nobody talked about” their financial situation and already urged the NGCP to make their situation known to correct the adverse public impression about them.
Meantime, the business leader remained bullish about the Philippine economy saying a six percent GDP growth rate this year is still possible.
Chua is also Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI) Chairman Emeritus, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) Honorary President and Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Director. He is also chairman of Bank of Commerce and founding chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP).
“The Philippines can still achieve six percent economic growth this 2023 despite a global slowdown,” said Chua despite several multilateral agencies having downgraded their growth forecasts. Chua added that he has confidence in the investment promotion efforts of President Bongbong Marcos and in the country’s “excellent economic managers led by Finance Secretary Ben Diokno and Bangko Sentral Governor Eli Remolona, Jr.”
“The Philippine banking system now is even stronger than the American banking system, due to our growing economy, the strict supervision of the Bangko Sentral and Finance Department,” he added.
Chua said he agreed with National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balicasan, who said the country can still achieve the 6% to 7% economic growth target especially if government spending accelerates in the third and fourth quarters of 2023.
He also expects continuing strong revenues coming from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and Philippine export industries like mining. He urged the country to invest more and expand export industries.
In reply to media questions, Chua also added that he is also optimistic about continuing friendly relations and strong economic cooperation between the Philippines and the country’s biggest trade partner China, despite some recent tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
In fact, Chua at the Pandesal Forum proposed that the Philippines undertake a high-speed railway project starting from Aparri in northern Luzon, passing Cebu and linking it all the way to Davao in Mindanao.
He said his proposal is inspired by the recent successful modern railway projects built by China in ASEAN countries Indonesia and Laos, the 142-kilometer Jakarta-Bandung high-speed train (with proposal to extend it to by more than 700 kilometers across Java island to Indonesia’s second biggest city Surabaya) and the 1,035-kilometer China-Laos Railway connecting Kunming City to Vientiane City.
In expressing confidence in the future of Philippine agriculture, Chua also revealed that in his recent conversation with China Ambassador Huang Xilian at a social event, the Chinese envoy had assured him that China shall remain to be a big market for Philippine agriculture exports like bananas, mangoes and durian. “In our policies or reforms on agriculture modernization, we, the private sector and government, should give priority to the welfare and better livelihood opportunities for our farmers,” he said.
On sustaining robust Philippine economic growth in globally tumultuous times, Chua urged all sectors of society “to unite and work hard to support government efforts and reforms for the sake of a better Philippine economy and for creating more jobs.”
Chua appealed to “lessen politics, conflicts and negative sentiments, unite and work harder to strengthen Philippine economic development and the country’s good relations with all our neighbors whether Singapore, ASEAN, China or other countries.”