On privatization of utilities: Profit, not service main purpose of private firms

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Any private entity that seeks to take over operations of utilities firms is only doing it for profit.

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Negros Electric Coop and Stakeholders Coalition, a consumer’s group bucking the privatization of power utilities like the Central Negros Electric Cooperative, believes that the underlying motivation of private entity is always profit.

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This could be done primarily by raising the prices of rates, “compromising the workers’ interest through cheap labor, contracting, minimal benefits, etc. and even compromising the status of the environment”.

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Private firms would most likely get their energy from non-renewable sources, worsening the climate crisis just to lower the input cost. (READ also: Consumer group: Subsidy, improved transparency not privatization key to improving basic services)

If publicly owned, on the other hand, power utilities firms would be “non-profit, service oriented and geared towards providing a service that prioritizes the welfare of its consumers”.

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Furthermore, in the context of local cooperatives, “the workers’ interest can be protected effectively and since they are given the space and venue to form unions”, the consumer group added.

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Governmental accountability and transparency mechanisms can also be imposed, with increased consumers’ participation.

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“In our effort to building a more social and people-centered economy, utilities that provides basic needs like electricity, water, transportation and others should be actively managed and regulated by the state,” the consumers’ group added.

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The group also mentioned Gamboa Hermanos Farmworkers Cooperative, and PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp., private firms that are poised to operate or set up power and water utilities.

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These firms, the consumer’s group said, will be thinking of the return of investment (ROI).

“Our long history of deregulation and privatization in the Philippines taught us one thing, that the sweet promise of privatization like the creation of competition and better service is at most a lie but instead it

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rather lead to monopolies and uncontrollable price hikes,” the group added.

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