Salim-Meralco people hate us Filipinos

10

THEIR lawyers may be able to win any case and get a ruling that the ownership of Meralco by companies controlled by Anthoni Salim of Indonesia does not violate Philippine laws and the Philippine Constitution. But something cannot be denied: It is a betrayal of the Philippines and the Filipinos for Meralco and its controlling owners to have spent a huge sum of money to build the two power plants in Singapore while we Filipinos are suffering from the present power supply situation.

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As our columnist Rigoberto Tiglao’s article that we had for our headline last week said,

“Meralco officials keep whining that its high electricity bills are due to the fact that Luzon doesn’t have generators and that because of this, we will be suffering the heat because of brownouts this coming summer.

“Yet the first of Meralco’s two brand-new natural-gas-fired 400-megawatt generators (for a total capacity of 800 MW) started operations 6 February in Jurong Industrial Estate in Singapore, which has the most tightly regulated electricity industry in Asia.

“The Jurong complex’s combined 800-MW capacity would increase the roughly 10,000-MW capacity of Singapore’s power plants by 8 percent.

“If it had been built in the Philippines, Luzon’s 8,000-MW capacity would increase by 10 percent, and would have significantly decreased both the incidence of brownouts and Meralco’s electricity rates as it won’t need to rely on expensive power of peaking plans.

“What does a ‘800-MW plant’ mean? According to the Department of Energy ‘2013 Supply-Demand Outlook,’ the power plants currently being built in Luzon for completion by 2015 will have a capacity of 869 MW.

“The Jurong electricity complex, valued at $1.2 billion, was owned by the Indian-controlled GMR Energy, which started construction in 2010. In April last year, Meralco’s affiliate FMP Power Holdings bought GMR Energy for $579 million.

“FPM Power Holdings is 60 percent owned by First Pacific Co. (the “FP”), controlled by Indonesia’s third richest tycoon, Anthoni Salim, and 40 percent by Meralco’s wholly owned subsidiary Meralco PowerGen.

“Meralco itself is controlled by the Indonesian magnate, since as a First Pacific annual report puts it, Salim’s ‘intermediate holding companies, subsidiaries, and affiliates’ total 50 percent shares in the firm, making him the biggest and controlling stockholder since 2011. (The San Miguel group is a minority with 27 percent of the shares, while the oligarch clan of the Lopezes, which controlled Meralco for decades, before and after martial law, owns only 4 percent now.)

“GMR Energy was paid $530 million, while the First Pacific-Meralco joint venture spent another $49 million to complete the power project. As a result of the sale, GMR Energy made $242 million in its three- year investment.

“The First Pacific-Meralco firm would also assume the huge $545 million the Indian GMR Energy borrowed from a consortium of banks to finance the power complex’s over $1 billion cost….

“According to a recent Meralco investors’ quarterly briefing, the company will spend P9 billion ($215 million) for its stake in the Singapore power firm.

“Meralco’s exposure is the biggest single foreign investment by a domestic company in recent years, significant enough that the firm’s outward remittances explain the huge outflow of dollars towards the end of last year.

“It is not clear whether Meralco’s P9 billion exposure was sourced from borrowings or from its huge profits in its operations in the Philippines.

“What irony. When the announcement was made of his firm’s exit out of the Singapore power industry, the Indian conglomerate’s chairman G.M. Rao said: ‘The cash flows (from the sale) will help GMR Energy to focus on our domestic energy business and accelerate ongoing (power) projects with a 5,790 MW capacity.’

“In our case, Meralco is spending P9 billion to own a power plant in Singapore, when the Philippines is facing a power crisis because there are not enough investments to finance the building of electricity generation plants here.

“The Jurong plant could be very profitable for Meralco. But something must be terribly wrong here when our biggest utility firm, which controls 60 percent of the electricity market, chooses to invest billions of pesos outside the country, which has been capital-deficient.

“Could this be the biggest flaw of a system in which private investors—driven of course by capitalism’s prime directive of making money—own a firm which has a monopoly over the sale of an essential commodity, electricity?

“Or could this be just the flaw of having a foreigner—a citizen of Indonesia, which is essentially our competitor in the global market —controlling our biggest electricity company?…

“No one certainly can blame Mr. Salim if he steers Meralco—with its overflowing war chest filled by profits from Filipino consumers suffering atrocious electricity bills and by borrowings from the local capital market —to profitable ventures abroad while the Philippines goes under.”

Doomed to poverty
Indeed our poor country is doomed to go under and to forever have more than 60 % of its population suffer poverty and life in primitive conditions, if the present power situation continues.

No serious resurgence of manufacturing, no credible national industrialization and no meaningful success in agribusiness will ever happen in our country if electricity will continue being one of the costliest in the world.

And that means no jobs would ever be available for the 12.1 million unemployed Filipinos, and the millions more that will be entering the job market every year.

The people behind the Salim-Meralco decision in Jurong have no love for the Philippines and the Filipinos.

They hate us.

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10 Comments

  1. I think I am against amending the constitution that will give 100% ownership to foreigners. Like in this case, our own needs will be subjugated to the needs of the parent company.

  2. We cannot blame Meralco if they invest some of their surplus money abroad, its their right, whether some earnings come from their profit here or not. The issue is what is our gov doing to create a balanced economic climate that is both favorable to the investors, the government and the populace. However, this is not the case because, now, we are experiencing high power costs as a result of power gen and elect distribution investors getting profits, high unemployment rate as gov prefer service oriented/realty/BPO economy rather than localized manufacturing industries/subsidize agriculture programs.

  3. Did the Times reporter or the news editors deliberately change Secretary de Lima’s description of Ruby Tuason as a “slam dunk” witness to a “slam bang” witness? If deliberate, were they trying to serve the interests of Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and the other senators Tuason will testify against. (Of course I know Ms. Tuason cannot anatomically “testify” to anything.)

    If not deliberate, then let me teach your reporter and news editors that a “slam bang” witness can be the opposite of a “slam dunk” witness.

    Aside from the force and noise suggested by “slam bang” as in a movie’s “slam bang” collision or car chase, the phrase means “reckless, slapdash, heedlessly fast” and resulting in chaos and disaster.

    Carlo L. Adan

  4. The purpose of people in business with money is to make more money. What is unacceptable about all that have been unearthed so far is how RPG and its instrumentalities and agencies have been co-opted into a fraudulent and unjust price increases that also included the highest officials and the legislature that passed the laws that insured the interests of the powerful elite. In some Asian countries, Bumis or brown people are protected to a certain extent in their own economic settings, while in PH laws are passed and institutionalized to insure societal layering and dominance, and officials appointed to positions and matters they no demonstrated expertise and absolutely know nothing about just like the WESM, ERC, and the DoE. It is time to dismantle this OJT government and send those who abused their powers and prerogatives to the gallows.

  5. Hi Apo3JR, of course, if there is any violation committed in this out-of-the-country investment by Meralco, it has to be investigated. But again, my point is that this editorial failed (or really did not want) to mention Meralco’s efforts to invest locally. That’s it.

    • I agree . Remember there is a 600MW project in Subic that is up to this time languishing and waiting approval. Another spoilage from our corrupt Justice System which is the root of all evils in our country .

  6. Those who are saying that the Philippines is doomed to disappear as the Republic it is now must be right. With electricity costing so much here and the abandonment of the original GRP-MNLF peace agreement to pave the way for the new GPH-MILF peace agreement that creates the Bangsamoro State, our country is sure to lose Mindanao.
    That is a development the foreign powers are waiting for.
    The USA, Japan, the UK, China, the EU, Australia, etcetera are all eager to see Mindanao as another financial and industrial playground for their fianciers. They cannot make the entire Republic of the Philippines the new TIGER ECONOMY of the world because of our cumbersome and CORRUPT implementation of DEMOCRACY. They can create several new Singapores in Mindanao, which will help LIFT UP their (the Western Powers’) fallen banking and financial fortunes.
    The new Bangsamoro State and other small states that will arise in Mindanao and in Palawan, Cebu and other parts of our present Republic will shine.
    The Filipinos in the sad sack Philippine Republic, with its protectionist Constitution and CORRUPT Congress and LAW ENFORCEMENT agencies, cannot “put its act together.” But, with the guidance and funding of the Western powers, these new Bangsamoro and other states will succeed in at least becoming as acceptable as Malaysia if they do not become as great as Singapore.
    How painful it is for me to write all this.
    But that is why the Salim-Meralco leaders–specially Anthoni Salim and Manuel V. Pangilinan– hate us Filipinos and would rather put their money in Jurong Industrial Estate and not in power plants in the Philippines.

  7. Dominador D. Canastra on

    The Salim-Meralco decisionmakers hate us Filipinos! That is the only logical conclusion any sane man can draw from these facts.
    But I wish to remind Manila Times readers that Anthoni Salim is not ethnically of the majority Malay-Polynesian people in Indonesia who are like the majority of us Filipinos. I do not mean to say that all Indonesians of Chinese blood like Anthoni Salim are haters of the brown Indonesians and Filipinos.
    I only want to remind your readers that Anthoni Salim is the son of the late Lim Sieu Liong, who brought a large part of his fortune to Singapore and Hong Kong and employed Mr. Pangilinan to globalize and modernize the financial side of his businesses.

  8. I think The Manila Times’ research team may have overlooked one important detail in Meralco’s power investments in the country. Meralco, in collaboration with other power industry players, is putting up at least two power plants in luzon, the one in Mauban, Quezon and the other one being Meralco PowerGen’s RP Energy in Subic, Zambales which was slapped by Writ of Kalikasan in 2012. Which makes me wonder: where are those self-proclaimed environmentalists who stopped the construction of RPE now that the country is having a power crisis?

    • Hcirdia, even if Meralco’s power project in Zambales was slapped by Writ of Kalikasan, why invest our hard earned money paid to Meralco all expenses and tax charge to Filipinos to buy GRA Enerrgy power plant in Singapores? This should be investigated by our Senatongs and Tongressmen at di lang yuon Napoles Scam. Di ba?