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For low-income households, a higher electrical lifeline tariff is being sought.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is recommending that the government give low-income consumers an additional subsidy of PHP1 per kilowatt hour (kWh), or a total of PHP418 million, to further mitigate the negative effects of high commodity prices. This subsidy would come from the general appropriations fund.

A lifeline recipient in Metro Manila was able to save an average of PHP194.36 in February of last year and as much as PHP223.34 in February of this year thanks to the effectiveness of the Lifeline Rate Extension Act, which was primarily written by Gatchalian. This represents an increase of 14.91 percent because of high inflation rates.

According to Gatchalian, beneficiaries’ savings from last month would have allowed them to purchase 5.6 kilos of rice at the average retail price of regular-milled rice, which, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, is PHP39.195 per kilogram.

Nonetheless, lifeline customers can save an average of PHP296.67 per month—enough to buy a family 7.5 kilos of rice—with the additional PHP1/kWh provided by the government.

“Tayo’y natutulungan ng isinulong nating batas na power lifeline tariff ng maraming mga kababayan natin. But we can help them even more if they can use their money for other expenses while the inflation rate is high, said Gatchalian in a news release on Sunday. “We are happy that many have benefited from our electricity lifeline rate law, but we can further help them if they can use their money for other expenses instead,” he added.

4.181 million households nationwide who were Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) participants have benefited from the lifeline rate subsidy.

Beneficiaries of the 4Ps program must use no more than 100-kilowatt hours of electricity each month in order to qualify for the subsidy.

The National Capital Area is home to 209,210 of the total number of beneficiaries’ households.

Republic Act 11552, also known as an Act Extending and Improving the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate, which amends Section 73 of RA 9136 for this reason, provides the subsidy (Electric Power Industry Reform Act).

The country’s inflation rate, which was the highest in Southeast Asia in January but somewhat decreased to 8.6% in February, is still the highest in the region.

With a 1.0 percentage point contribution, energy was still one of the major factors in inflation.

The country’s inflation rate was only 3% a year ago.

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