The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has approved the discontinuance of P295-million worth of rural electrification programs this year to augment the funding for the government’s response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said these were the P250-million appropriated for the implementation of the Electric Cooperatives Emergency and Resiliency Fund (ECERF) Act and the P45 million for the establishment of Customer Management and Quick Response System for selected ECs.

Earlier, the NEA remitted around P1.35 billion of unused subsidies and dividends to the Bureau of Treasury.

Masongsong said these were the programs recommended by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for discontinuance to partially generate the required amount to help address the pandemic situation in the country.

Republic Act No. 11039, also known as the ECERF Act, seeks an orderly and continuing means of financial assistance to ECs in the form of grants for the immediate restoration or rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure after a fortuitous event or force majeure.

Under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA), about P500 million was allotted to implement the ECERF Law, which was enacted in June 2018.

The NEA also committed to discontinue the 10 percent or P10.9 million of the appropriations for the electrification of local government unit/non-government organizations (LGU/NGOs) resettlement sites, saying this is no longer feasible for completion within the year. 

The move was pursuant to Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on March 25, 2020 to address the COVID-19 crisis in the country. 

Section 4 (v) of RA 11469 authorizes the President to “direct the discontinuance of appropriated programs, activities or projects of any agency in the Executive department, including government-owned and controlled corporations, under the 2019 and 2020 General Appropriations Act, whether released or unreleased, the allotments for which remain unobligated.” The savings generated will be used to augment the allocation for support operations and response measures against COVID-19.

Earlier, the NEA remitted around P1.35 billion of unused subsidies and dividends to the Bureau of Treasury, as requested by the Department of Finance (DOF), to support efforts to mitigate the impact of the ongoing public health crisis. Of the amount, P1.26 billion represents unutilized subsidy funds received in 2016 and earlier, and P85.71 million in dividends to the national government for 2019 operations.

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