Consumers vote yes to BENECO’s CDA registration

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BAGUIO CITY,  The votes from Baguio City consumers of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) are yet to be counted but this early, Beneco appears headed to be officially registered and eventually converted as a stock cooperative with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

Partial official results from the first and second referenda held in Buguias and Tuba, respectively, showed that 1525 consumers have voted “yes” while 485 have  voted “no” to the proposal that Beneco must enroll with the CDA.

The holding of the referendum in time for the electric cooperative’s annual general membership assembly (AGMA) for this year got the nod of the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the regulator of the country’s electric cooperatives, in a bid to boost Beneco’s thrust to finally become a regular cooperative.

Buguias hosted Beneco’s AGAM in June 1st while Tuba took its turn on June 8th . The Buguias AGMA, held at the Benguet State University in Loo, took the haul of consumers mostly from Buguias, Bakun, Kapangan. Kibungan, Atok, Tublay and Mankayan. The Tuba AGMA, held at the municipal gym, was attended by consumers from Kabayan, Bokod, Itogon, Sablan and Tuba.

The next AGMA will be held June 15, 2019 at the Baguio athletic bowl where the bulk of Beneco’s consumers are expected to attend.

The last AGMA will be at the BSU closed gym in La Trinidad, Benguet on June 22, 2019 where the town’s consumers and any consumers from Baguio and Benguet who wish to attend can participate.

The technical working group (TWG) engaged by Beneco to prepare its CDA registration said it is high time for Beneco to register with the CDA considering its superb achievement as a distribution utility.

As explained before every assembly, the TWG said once Beneco is registered with the CDA, the sense of ownership of the consumers will be strengthened since the consumers will be issued member share contribution certificates which will entitle them to dividends or patronage refund once the books of the cooperative will yield a net income.

Beneco officials earlier said that the consumers will not be required in the meantime to subscribe to shares to be recognized as cooperative members once the CDA approves Beneco’s registration.

The board of directors has approved the move that the payment of the consumers for the reinvestment fund for sustainable capital expenditure (RFSC), a component of the monthly electric bill, will be converted as their share contribution.

The total RFSC paid by the consumers starting 2004 when the unbundled rate system was implemented will be added and divided by the par value of each share. The value of each share is yet to be determined by the Beneco board although the Tuba AGMA approved a P100 per share.

The electric cooperative had to call for the referendum after the consumers moved viva voce in the 2018 AGMA that Beneco will register with the CDA. The CDA though said that a referendum must be called to officially document the decision.

The NEA, through lawyer Vicar Loureen Loufranco, deputy administrator for electric distribution utilities, wrote Beneco on May 21, 2019 and gave the go signal for the referendum.

“We would like to emphasize that this office does not oppose the EC’s conversion and registration with the CDA provided that the decision to convert is the sentiment of the general assembly and the procedures prescribed under the law are properly complied with, ” Loufranco said.

The referendum question stated in the ballot goes this way — “As a member consumer owner, are you in favor that BENECO will register and eventually convert as a stock cooperative with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)?”

The consumer will now check either of the boxes for “yes” or “no” to indicate his vote.

By DELMAR O. CARINO

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