THE Department of Energy (DOE) plans to spend almost P3 billion to provide far flung areas in the country with electricity.
Citing data from the Department of Budget Management (DBM), Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said the DOE will receive P2.84 billion to bring electricity to 3,150 hard-to-reach households next year.
Recto said the DOE is also setting its sights to energize 5,400 households in off-grid sites.
The government should tap the Sustainable Alternative Light or SALt lamps in bringing electricity to far-flung areas, according to the Senator, saying the P168.9-billion Malampaya can be tapped for mass producing SALt lamps.
The Malampaya fund largely consists of royalty payments the government receives from the proceeds of the gas-to-power natural gas field in offshore Northwest Palawan.
“If you look at government finances, there should be no problem in finding money for these saltwater lamps,” Recto said in a statement.
“You don’t even have to seek budget from Congress because some of these funds are off-budget, meaning they can be tapped without having to go through the annual appropriations route, like the Malampaya royalty remittances,” he added.
The Malampaya fund registered an outstanding balance of P168.9 billion as end-May.
Citing a report from the Bureau of the Treasury, Recto said releases from this fund has reached P42 billion.
In 2016, remittances from the Malampaya project are projected to hit P34.7 billion.
“This means, on a daily basis, Malampaya is pumping P91.7 million into the government coffers,” Recto noted.
The government’s “daily windfall alone is more than enough” to finance the development of SALt’s full potential, the senator said.
“If reports are true that P20 million is what the developers initially need to jumpstart the lamp’s production, then just six hours’ worth of Malampaya would be enough,” Recto said.
One saline solution-powered lamp is said to cost $20, plus $3 every six months for parts replacement.
SALt developer Engineer Aisa Mijeno said her company welcomes financial grants to mass produce the lamps.
Recto said government should offer Mijeno a joint venture deal.
The Department of Science and Technlogy’s (DOST) P19.1 billion budget for 2016 also features “grants to technology startups, assistance to inventors,” the senator noted
The Senate has called the attention of the DOST “to immediately reach out to Mijeno on the possibility of her project being given support.”
Recto pointed out that the SALt project would qualify for Malampaya funding under Presidential Decree 910, which states that government share from the exploitation of energy resources can be used to finance energy programs.