The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) is asking for the reinstatement of its supervisory powers over electric cooperatives, saying that the latter’s members have long been unjustly deprived of the monetary benefits due them.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Undersecretary Orlando Ravanera, CDA chairman, said that while there are at least 119 electric cooperatives (ECs) in the country, only 12 are duly registered with the CDA. These cooperatives have 11 million MCOs [members-consumers-owners], he added.
Republic Act 10531 or An Act Strengthening the National Electrification Administration (NEA), which was enacted in February 2013, divested CDA of its supervisory powers over ECs; said powers were then transferred to NEA.
Originally, NEA was only mandated to use its technical expertise to make electricity available in the rural areas.
Such decision, Ravanera said removed CDA’s power to compel ECs to recognize the contributions and capital shares of their respective MCOs, which ultimately should have translated into dividends, profits and “patronage refund” in favor of its member-consumers.
These contributions, Ravanera explained are in the form of utility fees and bundled rates that the ECs charge and collect from their respective MCOs.
“Being the consumers-member-owners as such of these ECs, their contributions should have benefitted them to a certain extent by way of dividends and patronage funds,” he added.
Ravanera said the fact that these ECs are operating as “cooperatives” have empowered them (ECs) to pass on their operational expenses and capital requirements to the MCOs, making them co-owners of the ECs under the Cooperative Development Code of 2008.
“We are talking about more than P100 billion in cash which should have been duly recognized as the MCOs’ contributions. Thus, they [MCOs] should have been receiving their just share of the net profits out of their contribution through partronage refund and/or dividends but they [ECs] are not recognizing such contributions, much less recognizing the MCOs as part owners of the ECs. Isn’t that an injustice?” Ravanera said.
He added that by law, CDA is the registering agency for all cooperatives in the country along with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Yes, the NEA’s authority on the financial and technical assistance over the ECs shall remain. But the supervision over them [ECs] with regard to their institutional functions and compliance as far as their being cooperatives are concerned should be returned to the CDA,” Ravanera said.
Among these requirements that ECs need to comply with include the economic participation of MCOs, continuing education and training of members, networking among stakeholders and the reinvestment of funds for the ECs’ sustainable capital expenditure.