The Bacolod City government has agreed to settle its remaining accounts with the Central Negros Electric Cooperative by February, CENECO president Arnel Lapore said yesterday.
Lapore said that during a dialog with a team from City Hall led by Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson last month, they explained that they cannot continue to sustain unpaid accounts.
During the dialog, they agreed that the city will settle its accounts amounting to P15 million not later than February, he said.
Lapore said the city’s old account was P186 million which was subject of a compromise agreement entered into by former CENECO president Edward Gasambelo and the city.
There was an arrangement between CENECO and the city that out of the P186 million, half of the P33 million will go back to the city by way of electrification projects, he said.
The city, which is their biggest consumer, has paid P18 million out of its P33 million account, Lapore said.
The remaining P166 million is subject of a litigation in court for declaratory relief and will touch on the interpretation on what constitute gross receipts, he said.
Lapore said the position of the city is that business taxes should be assessed, based on the gross receipts that CENECO is collecting.
CENECO‘s stand is it should only be liable for the distribution charges , not for the generation and transmission charges, he said.
There is P166 million which the city wants to collect as a counter-claim from CENECO for the issue of business tax, Lapore said. It is the position of the city that CENECO is liable to them for its business tax based on the gross receipt principle, he said.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said “We feel we have substantially paid the amount in so far as the compromise agreement is concerned, and that there is no cause for alarm.”
In the light of the provision of the contract, 50 percent of the amount that the city will pay CENECO will be plowed into projects to be identified by the city, he said.
Among the beneficiaries of this is the relocation site in Abada-Escay and the Arao properties, he added.
Meanwhile, Leonardia said “We would like to join hands with the province and other agencies in opposing any rate increase in electricity.”
He said they want to explore all possibilities to make sure they get the cheapest electric rates, because Bacolod is trying to attract investments and they do not want the growth of Bacolod affected by these developments.
Leonardia said they will sit down with CENECO officials to see if there is any way they can be of help by trying to convince authorities to somehow spare them from any rate increases. “I hope it will not affect us this Christmas season,” he said.*CGS