Powering a Brighter Future
MVP: ‘We are committed to enabling the re-opening of the economy
which we hope happens this year’
Despite a tumultuous year, Meralco rose to the challenge of powering a brighter future for countless Filipinos.
By Babe Pañares
Published March 12, 2021
The mass vaccination program has finally started. Community quarantine restrictions are being eased. Businesses are slowly starting to pick up.
And while the environment remains volatile, Manila Electric Company chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan sees signs of recovery that make bouncing back more than just a buzzword and a rallying cry of a nation reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's a very volatile environment we foresee for 2021, given the lingering effect of the pandemic on the economy," Pangilinan said.
"But we still continue to be positive about the outlook for this year that it should be better than 2020," he added.
Meralco's own financial performance reflected Pangilinan's cautiously optimistic outlook.
"In the latter part of February, we're seeing that the numbers have improved in terms of volume sold. Billed volume for the second half of February has improved somewhat compared to January this year, so we do hope that it portends to a positive trend for the balance of the year," he said.
Battered, but keeping the lights on
Meralco hit its core net income target of P21 billion in 2020, though it represented a nine percent reduction from the previous year's record amid the COVID-19 lockdowns and three major typhoons that struck the power distributor’s franchise areas.
Commercial volumes, on the other hand, dropped by 20 percent with hotels and retail trade hit the hardest by community quarantine restrictions while industrial volumes inched up gradually by the fourth quarter to reflect a positive growth of four percent in December.
While Meralco’s core net income of P21.7 billion was within target, its net income dropped by 30 percent to P16.32 billion last year from P23.832 billion in 2019. Revenues declined by 14 percent to P275.304 billion in 2020.
Despite this, Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Atty. Ray C. Espinosa said the company is making appropriate capital expenditures and investments to support the country’s recovery and foster resilience.
Meralco CFO Betty Siy-Yap said operating expenditures for 2020 declined by five percent to P25.81 billion, while capex rose to P20.83 billion, up by 2.9 percent from the previous year.
Moving forward, Pangilinan stressed Meralco's commitment to “future-proof” by focusing on sustainability and by digitalizing processes.
“We are increasing resources allocated to clean technologies across all businesses, instituting a stronger plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and setting up science-based, measurable targets as our guidance,” he said.
Powering the economy
Where the pandemic was concerned, Meralco rose to the challenge of energizing more than 90 COVID-19 facilities, consisting of government agencies, public and private hospitals, testing laboratories, treatment centers and quarantine facilities. In the process, the power firm assumed distribution charges totaling P18.2 million.
“We have not lost sight of our role in providing reliable power to our customers which will also underpin our economic recovery. We are committed to enabling the re-opening of the economy which we hope happens this year,” Pangilinan said.
“We join the government in containing the outbreak of COVID-19 by ensuring that our 5,700 workforce are regularly tested, supplied with the necessary personal protective equipment, provided supplements to boost their immunity and given prompt medical attention at the first sign of symptoms or infection,” he added.
Pangilinan underscored the importance of the mass vaccination rollout to alleviate the fear factor that has held back the economy in 2020.
“I am of the view that we need to jumpstart the economy sooner rather than later. People were simply afraid to go out. Easing that fear factor will be a function of how fast we can bring the vaccine and deliver them to our people,” he said.
“But vaccination is only one factor. On the other, we have to put more money in the hands of our people. A lot are still unemployed – at least four million and if you count the families, that is 20 million.”
It is a race against time, Pangilinan said, adding it will be harder to rebound if the economic contraction continues.
“We have to allow the mobility of people, generate jobs, generate businesses, and put money in the hands of people so they have disposable income to spend,” he said. “We learn what we can learn from our recent experiences, but we forge ahead.”
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Story originally posted on Power Club.