Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General

Energy Policy and Development Program (EPDP) Conference 2016

New World Hotel, Makati City

12 January 2016

To USAID Philippine Mission Director Susam Brems, Stanford University Professor Franz Wolak, Dr. Mark Rosegrant of the IFPRI, and Dr. James Roumasset of the University of Hawaii, to our friends and colleagues from the energy sector, representatives from the academe here and abroad, the private sector, my colleagues in government, esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to the Energy Policy and Development Program Conference 2016.

First of all, I would like to commend the EPDP for organizing this two-day event, gathering some of the most brilliant minds in the energy sector.

 The theme of this conference is very appropriate for what we, in government, have been striving to achieve: inclusive and sustainable development. Over the past years, we have strategically worked towards this goal. As you know, the economy has seen rapid growth in recent years, even reaching its highest-five year average growth of 6.2 percent since the mid-1970’s. Despite the slowdown in the last two years, we see the economy still as one of the fastest–growing major developing countries in the world. The unemployment rate has marked a new 10-year record low, and the country has risen in terms of global competitiveness rankings, among others.

Despite these, we recognize the need to continue to strengthen and improve the nation’s institutions, develop the country’s infrastructure, promote technological innovation, and pursue regulatory and structural reforms. We have to carry on policies and programs that will improve industries’ competitiveness and productivity, and this cannot be attained without an efficient, secure and sustainable energy sector.

Energy remains a crucial element in the country’s endeavor to stay on its current growth trajectory. However, the sector is faced with many policy, investment, and regulatory issues affecting incentives and efficiency within the sector and across the economy. These include coordinations between the public sector and the private sector, and the seemingly incongruous objectives of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and the Renewable Energy Act. It is then through research and discussion that we can equip the country with evidence-based energy policies to address all of these.

We from the government are fortunate for EPDP which, over the last year, has assisted us through research, policy development and advisory, as well as capacity building. In research, there are ten major studies EPDP is undertaking, a majority of which is in response to government’s request. These studies will be presented during the course of this conference, and includes topics on forecasting energy demand, optimal fuel mix, market testing of power supply agreements, and power plant approvals in the Philippines. In policy development and advisory, EPDP has issued three technical advisory notes to the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Energy. These advisories discuss the necessity of greater synchronization between government agencies in planning, the absence of economic and social analysis in the current evaluation of power projects, and the challenges associated with the then proposed demand aggregation and supply auctioning policy. Currently, EPDP is providing technical assistance to DOE, together with the Energy Regulatory Commission or ERC, as it seeks to implement a competitive selection process for distribution utilities through a joint resolution issued last October 20, 2015.

All these are but a few of the complexities facing the energy sector. It is my fervent hope that this conference be an effective platform for policymakers, practitioners, stakeholders, the academe, and all other participants to engage in healthy deliberation and debate on pressing energy issues and its attendant solutions. Thank you for your continued support to strengthen the collaborative efforts in this puruit, particularly the USAID for the strong support it has extended to the program.

Let us all have a productive day ahead. Thank you.