NO LONGER CASH-STRAPPED: Casureco III now enjoys robust fiscal positioning
By Jason B. Neola IRIGA CITY --- After a year of implementing reforms, the once beleaguered Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative, Inc. is now back on its feet with high percentage of reliability rating and robust fiscal positioning that allows the electric coop to pay every month its restructured debts totaling to more than P1B. The cooperative’s turn around began when the National Electrification Administration (NEA) designated in February 2017 the new members of the board of directors who immediately went to put into action NEA’s Task Force Duterte Rinconada Power agenda. Also benefitting from the coop’s good financial condition are its employees and laborers who now receive their salaries and wages on time, aside from enjoying their traditional Christmas and anniversary bonuses. In an interview, Wilfredo O. Bucsit, who was designated in September 2017 by NEA as the cooperative’s acting general manager, said that the reforms instituted and accomplishments achieved include debt restructuring with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation, NEA, San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC), and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to whom the coop owes more than a billion pesos in debt. The cooperative’s monthly financial obligation to SMEC is P49.6M while with the NGCP, P9.6M. The rest of the debtors have to be paid with P10-15M each. In their effort to reduce the systems loss that soared to 19.23% in previous years, the Task Force Duterte board of directors and acting general manager managed to lower it by conducting massive clearing operations, offering amnesty to consumers who surrendered their unregistered electric meters, and by imposing harsher penalties against consumers found using unregistered meters. “With the financial status that our electric coop has been enjoying, we can now afford to pay Casureco III’s monthly financial obligation with these agencies. We were able to lower our systems loss to 13. 64% that allows us to recover 5.432,670 kilowatt hour, which, if converted into pesos, would amount to savings of more than P54M,” says Bucsit. Iriga City-based businessman Solomon C. Ngo, past president of Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI), said he was happy about the achievements made by the electric cooperative, saying that there’s no need for the power coop to be privatized to achieve clockwork efficiency, as suggested by some politicians and business leaders in the Rinconada district in previous years. Ngo said what Casureco III needs are servant-leaders who are honest, competent and morally-upright. Bucsit said that his office is seriously considering the plan to further lower the systems loss from 13 to 10 percent that can only be done by replacing old transmission lines, transformers and other devices that affect the flow of electricity. In collaboration with the National Bureau of Investigation, Casureco III’s intensive anti-pilferage campaign was able to track down power consumers with flying connections, unregistered meters, direct tapping, jumpers, self-reconnection, self-grounding, manipulated meters, and meters that are not functioning well. The campaign also allowed the cooperative to discover around 1,000 unregistered power consumers or those consumers who are not included in the list of individuals or households being billed for the electricity they consumed. In the early part of 2017, the 76,000 to 77,000 billed consumers of Casureco III have grown to more than 78, 700 in December last year. The directors installed by NEA to take over and manage the operations of Casureco III are composed of the following: Ana Sylvia Alsisto, chairman; Veronica Briones, co-chairman; Victor R. Cada, secretary; Wilbur Almoneda, treasurer; Rev. Fr. Rey Caceres, auditor; Perfecto Ignatius Cheng, alternate secretary, and Bucsit as ex-officio member and acting general manager. Some of their 2017 achievements: rank adjustment for 53 regular employees, regularization of 33 probationary employees, creation of multi-sectoral electrification advisory committee, installation of primary metering, creation of executive assistant, CORPLAN supervisor and programmer (plantilla positions), membership to Rural Electrification and Financing Corporation, approved emergency CAPEX (10MVA substation), purchase of 2 coop service vehicles, energization of Barangay Sta. Isabel, Baao and Lanipga in Bula), construction of assembly hall, and approved 207 board resolutions.