MERALCO ORDERED TO USE UNCLAIMED TAX REFUND TO REDUCE RATES
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), in an Order released on 4 February 2019, directed the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) to submit a proposed scheme that incorporates the unclaimed tax refund for purposes of reducing the distribution rates of its customers, among others. ERC also authorized MERALCO to continue with the implementation of the Supreme Court’s directive on income tax refund to eligible customers under Phases I to IV until 30 June 2019. In connection therewith, MERALCO was directed to submit within ten (10) days from receipt of the subject Order an updated report on the gross and net amount of refund effected as of 31 December 2018.
“It is incumbent upon MERALCO to inform its customers immediately upon receipt of the ERC Order through the publication in a newspaper of general circulation, for four (4) consecutive weeks, of a notice to all consumers to claim their refund,” ERC Chairperson and CEO Agnes VST Devanadera stated.
MERALCO was also enjoined to deposit in a separate interest-bearing bank account the unclaimed amounts of the income tax refund, for transparency and easy monitoring purposes. Furthermore, MERALCO was required to submit the detailed list of customers who have not yet claimed their refund within thirty (30) days from receipt of the ERC Order. MERALCO was also instructed to post in all its business offices the notice and the list of names of customers who have not claimed the tax refund for their information and reference.
“We are now in a new regulatory regime where consumer benefit is given primal consideration. This new set of ERC Commission will see to it that consumers do not only get billed with just and reasonable rates but we will also ensure that they get the best value for their hard-earned money. We enjoin the Distribution Utilities (DUs) to devise ways and means that will reduce their electricity rates with the advent of the passage of the “Murang Kuryente” legislation,” ERC Chair Devanadera concluded.