Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis must explain the reason for what he claimed was a 70 percent hike in electricity costs.
However, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said electricity costs have not increased by 70 percent. He said bills are climbing as a result of more expensive fuel in the international market and consequently BPL has to shift much of its load from its Clifton Pier power plant to Blue Hills, which operates using more expensive fuel.
Moxey also claimed that some people are seeing higher costs as a result of increased usage.
But Davis said the higher bills are an outrage.
“The record shows that BPL suffered several fires recently due to a lack of equipment maintenance and if this rate hike is to pay for leased supplemental power generation plants and other connected expenses, then this is not a fuel cost issue. This is a mismanagement issue,” he said in a statement.
Davis also said the voluntary separation packages (VSEP) given to some employees was another expensive policy failure that will have to be borne by the taxpayer.
“It is wrong for taxpayers and BPL customers to have to pay for the redundant missteps, errors and mismanagement by this intransigent and myopic government,” he said.
“If the government is not up to the task, then the solution is to replace this government with one capable of managing the energy sector and necessary attendant reforms. The PLP is willing and able.”
Davis, the former minister with responsibility for BPL, said the FNM scrapped the PLP administration’s plans for energy reform.
“The FNM in its infinite wisdom and believing their own false propaganda and hype scrapped those plans, replacing it with a ball of confusion by politically interfering with the work of the board and a questionable management team,” Davis said.
“Bahamians are angry and frustrated about the government’s poor handling of BPL to date and rightly so. Since coming to office this government has never been forthright with the Bahamian people concerning BPL.
“The PLP stands with the Bahamian people in their outrage over this latest burden placed around their necks.”
Many BPL consumers have complained of higher bills in recent months.
Moxey said last week that as the company continues to grapple with generation issues stemming from fires that impacted two of the Clifton Pier power station’s largest engines in September, relief from those high bills is not imminent.
He said BPL is working on securing additional assets to compensate for the loss of those engines, but said that might not happen until next summer.
Yesterday, Moxey accused Davis of being irresponsible in making his statement on BPL bills.
Addressing the matter outside Parliament yesterday, Davis said, “Whenever we see challenges [that are] going to be visited upon our people, we have a duty to bring it to the attention, not only of Parliament and to the government, but to the people themselves to warn them of the impending dangers, impending hurt, or the impending burdens that they are going to be facing; that’s our duty.
“Now call it political mischief or political posturing as they may, but that is what our duty is and that is what we intend to execute always.”
Minnis announced yesterday in Parliament that his government intends to raise the value-added tax (VAT) exemption ceiling for electricity bills from $200 to $300.
But Davis said that that “resolves nothing”.
“The issue here is a proper plan and vision for BPL,” he added.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications