To further cushion the adverse impact of high commodity prices, Senator Win Gatchalian is proposing that the government should provide an additional subsidy of P1/kWh for low-income consumers or a total of P418 million to be sourced from the general appropriations fund.
With the effectivity of the Lifeline Rate Extension Act, authored mainly by Gatchalian, a lifeliner in Metro Manila was able to save an average of P194.36 in February last year and even as high as P223.34 in February this year, an increase of 14.91% due to high inflation rates. Gatchalian said savings incurred by beneficiaries last month would have afforded them to buy 5.6 kilograms of rice based on the average retail price of regular-milled rice of P39.195 per kilogram as per data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
However, with the additional P1/kWh from the government, lifeline consumers can save an average of P296.67 per month. This can buy a family 7.5 kilos of rice.
“Tayo’y natutuwa na maraming mga kababayan natin ang natutulungan ng isinulong nating batas na electricity lifeline rate. Pero mas matutulungan pa natin sila kung dadagdagan natin ang maitatabi nilang pera para sa iba pa nilang bayarin habang patuloy na mataas ang inflation rate sa bansa,” Gatchalian said.
The lifeline rate subsidy has provided relief for 4.181 million households identified as beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) across the country. To avail of the subsidy, 4Ps beneficiaries need to consume not more than 100-kilowatt hours of electricity per month. Of the total number of beneficiaries, 209,210 households are in the National Capital Region.
The subsidy is provided under Republic Act 11552, or an Act Extending and Enhancing the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate, amending for the purpose Section 73 of RA 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.
Meanwhile, the country’s inflation rate in February 2023 eased a bit to 8.6% from 8.7% in January but is still the highest in Southeast Asia. Energy remained one of the top contributors to inflation, accounting for 1.0 percentage point. In February 2022, the country’s inflation was just at 3%.