MANILA, January 24, 2005 (STAR) By Jess Diaz  -  Twenty-five government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs) are expected to lose P103 billion this year in taxpayers’ money even as Filipinos are asked to tighten their belts and pay more taxes.

Heading the list of losers, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), is the National Power Corp. (Napocor), which lost more than P100 billion last year and will lose an estimated P83.52 billion this year.

Napocor accounted for a big part of the huge national debt. Among other causes, corruption and mismanagement have been blamed for Napocor losses.

The state power firm is followed in the list by the National Food Authority, which is projected to lose P13.13 billion. When the equally huge NFA losses were exposed recently, NFA officials pointed out that their agency was designed not to turn a profit but to lose money. Some lawmakers, however, said if the agency could not make a profit, it should at least break even.

The DBM sent the Senate the list of losing and profitable GOCCs without saying what Malacañang intended to do with the losers. The Palace has packed these corporations with political appointees who are receiving fat salaries.

"We cannot have a situation wherein one sector of the government is saving and raising money while another sector is blowing it all away," Sen. Ralph Recto said yesterday.

"We cannot ask our schools and hospitals to tighten their belts more or ask our people to pay more taxes without imposing the same regimen on losing public corporations that behave as if they are profitable private firms," he said.

Recto was furnished a copy of the DBM list. He is complaining because on his shoulders rest the task of recommending tax increases. He chairs the ways and means committee.

Recto urged presidential appointees in the boards of GOCCs to make their firms profitable or quit their jobs.

"Their duty is to turn these firms around and not to further run them to the ground," he said.

The other state firms expected to lose huge sums this year include the Light Rail Transit Authority, P1.3 billion; Philippine National Oil Co., P1.23 billion; National Electrification Administration, P1.3 billion; National Tobacco Administration, P80 million; Philippine Coconut Authority, P236.6 million, and the Sugar Regulatory Administration, P60 million;

Four specialty hospitals under the Department of Health, including the Philippine Heart Center, P824 million; National Dairy Authority, P67.7 million; Center of International Trade Exposition and Mission, P98 million; Cottage Industry Center, P13.8 million;

Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, P39.3 million; Cultural Center of the Philippines, P180 million; Philippine Rice Research Institute, P200 million; Technology and Livelihood Resource Center, P172 million; and Zamboanga Economic Zone Authority, P27.6 million.

Also expected to lose is Nation Broadcasting Network (NBN-Ch 4), which lost more than P50 million last year and which faced a labor problem due to its inability to pay wages and benefits.

The profitable firms are led by two banks: LandBank of the Philippines, which is expected to earn P2.3 billion, and Development Bank of the Philippines, P2.1 billion.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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