By Hannah Torregonza
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he is confident President Duterte’s executive order requiring government agencies to act on energy project applications within 30 days would boost the Philippine energy market.
Referring to Executive Order No. 30, which Duterte signed last June 28, Gatchalian said he is optimistic prospective players would be encouraged to invest in the Philippines as the government jumpstarts the implementation of vital reforms to eliminate red tape in the energy sector.
The EO establishes the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC), an inter-agency group to be led by a representative of the Department of Energy (DOE), and is mandated to “establish a simplified approval process, and harmonize the relevant rules and regulations of all government agencies involved in obtaining permits and regulatory approvals” when it comes to implementing big-ticket energy projects.
Gatchalian, head of the Senate committee on energy, noted the government has “taken a big step forward” in addressing energy sector red tape with the issuance of Executive Order No. 30 as it streamlines the permitting process for potential energy investors and mandates strict timeframes for government agencies to act on applications forwarded to their offices.
“EO 30 is a signal to investors that the Philippines is serious about addressing red tape in the energy sector,” Gatchalian said.
“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,” the senator said referring to Senate Bill No. 1439 which is now under Senate Committee Report No. 60 and is pending third and final reading.
He also commended the President and the Department of Energy (DOE), led by SecretaryAlfonso Cusi, for their “forward-looking approach to addressing the bureaucratic inefficiencies which have hampered investments in the Philippine energy sector for a long time.”
Gatchalian explained that under the proposed EVOSS Act, processing of new power generation projects would be done through the establishment of an online system to eliminate bureaucratic inefficiencies, redundancies and overlaps.
He said online applications 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,” Gatchalian said.
“This in turn will boost competition, resulting in a more stable power supply and cheaper power costs for consumers.” Gatchalian said.
He said the 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 measure also seeks to establish specific processing procedures and time frames for local government units (LGUs) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Likewise, the bill imposes 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,” he said.
“There is much work left to do, but it is clear that we are heading in the right direction,” the lawmaker stressed.
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