Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on executive officials to address ambiguities surrounding the utilization of the P198 billion Malampaya Fund to ensure that the remaining funds will be spent in a transparent manner in accordance with the law.
Under Presidential Decree 910, royalties from the Malampaya natural gas facility are to be used exclusively for the financing of energy resource development and exploitation programs, to be identified by the Department of Energy (DOE).
Officials of DOE say congressional approval is needed to utilize the Malampaya Fund, but the Department of Finance (DOF) is claiming that proposals to tap the special fund only requires presidential authorization.
Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, wants a definite interpretation on the use of the special fund before the committee continues deliberations on proposals to tap the special fund for various purposes.
“In past administrations the Malampaya Fund was misused for projects that were not related to energy. The intent of the law was not fulfilled. Now that there are pending proposals to use the fund, we cannot move forward without clarifying the mechanism. The process must first be cleared before we can actually use the fund,” the legislator said during plenary debates on the proposed DoE budget for next year.
Meanwhile, during the interpellation of the lawmaker on the proposed 2018 budget of the Department of Finance, he took to task officials of the DOF and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation for giving senators unreconciled figures in relation to PSALM’s current financial status.
The senator said, “PSALM’s job is to liquidate the debts (of the National Power Corporation) and to liquidate this debt, the first step is to know how much they owe. But they do not even know the exact amount, so how can they pay it?”
The DOF claimed PSALM’s total outstanding liabilities stands at P722.5 billion, out of which P275 billion consist of stranded contract costs and stranded debts. But the PSALM, during a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy that tackled a proposal to tap the Malampaya Fund to pay off its debts, claimed its total outstanding obligation was P491 billion, of which P223 billion comprised its stranded contract costs and stranded debts.