Reforms drawing more investors in power – Gatchalian

By Danessa Rivera

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said more investors are looking at the Philippine energy market as the government jumpstarts the implementation of vital reforms to eliminate red tape in the energy sector.

The lawmaker said the government has taken a big step forward in addressing energy sector red tape with the issuance of Executive Order No. 30.

The order, signed by President Duterte in June, streamlines the permit processes for big-ticket energy projects and mandates strict timeframes for government agencies to act on applications forwarded to their offices.

Gatchalian, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, said this is a “forward-looking approach to addressing the bureaucratic inefficiencies which have hampered investments in the Philippine energy sector for a long time.”

 “EO 30 is a signal to investors that the Philippines is serious about addressing red tape in the energy sector. The executive order will help address immediate red tape concerns in the permitting process of energy projects while the Energy Virtual One Stop Shop (EVOSS) Act of 2017, which I have already sponsored on the Senate floor, makes its way through the legislative process,” he said.

The proposed EVOSS Act, an integral part of Gatchalian’s legislative agenda for the energy sector, seeks to cut red tape in the permitting process of new power generation projects.

It aims to establish an online system that would allow for single submission and synchronous processing of documentary requirements, assessment and payment of charges and fees, status updates and progress monitoring, and a synchronized permitting approval process.

 “EO 30 and the EVOSS Act are complementary reforms which will facilitate the entry of more players into the Philippine energy sector. This in turn will boost competition, resulting in a more stable power supply and cheaper power costs for consumers.” Gatchalian said.

The senator said the comprehensive EVOSS Act would widen the scope of the reforms under EO 30 in several ways, including the appropriation of P50 million annually for the adoption of new technologies and operationalization of the streamlined permitting process; the setting of specific processing procedures and time frames for local government units and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples; and the imposition of administrative penalties for failure to comply with the procedural guidelines and time frames, among others.

 “The Duterte administration and the Senate are working hand in hand to provide sufficient and affordable electricity to the Filipino people. Addressing bureaucratic inefficiencies by eliminating red tape will help us achieve this goal. There is much work left to do, but it is clear that we are heading in the right direction,” Gatchalian said.

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