We need relief and we need it now
In examining the major issues facing The Bahamas at or near the top of the list must be affordable power. This is not a new issue, but it is a recurring issue. It appears we are finally making some progress as far as signing a Heads of Agreement to get the process started, but we are still handicapped while we wait. The cost of power in The Bahamas is a lot higher than it should be, and for whatever reason we have failed in the past to get it done. While we have failed to resolve the issue, it has weighed down our economy and cost The Bahamas many business opportunities. I recall speaking to several international business friends who were very interested in doing business in The Bahamas only to be to be discouraged, and ultimately cancel their plans because of the high cost of doing business, particularly the cost of power.
I believe the key to the future of The Bahamas is solving the power issue. Public estimates I have seen published put the current cost at approximately 40 cents per kilowatt hour. The new proposed plant is estimated to reduce that cost to 10 cents. That is a reduction of several hundred percentage points. Why it has taken us so long to address this issue is truly alarming because we knew it existed and what the solution was a very long time ago. I recall several discussions by policy makers for the past decade promising change, but the change has still not come. I am thankful that at least we can now see the finish line even though it means that we must suffer yet a few more years before true relief comes.
I have been advised that there were several other measures that could have been taken in the meantime but even these were not implemented. Solar projects that could have helped relieve some of the pressure have also been painfully delayed apparently by bureaucratic wrangling producing continual inertia. A country that has sun as one of its primary benefits is not utilizing this advantage while countries in the region and the rest of the world have gone ahead of us and are passing on benefits to their people while we are still debating and considering something that there should have not been much deliberation on but rather concrete action. Hopefully this issue of solar, wind and other alternative power sources of green energy can finally be resolved to the benefit of the Bahamian people.
I have noted that there have been calls for an inquiry into what happened with the current and former board of BPL and the Minister. While what happened may be important, I don’t believe it is anywhere near as important as reducing our power costs. It seems that the government ends up with countless inquiries that in the end only further delay the relief of the people from high costs, so I am not sure if I am interested in another inquiry that will essentially waste the people’s (I am one of the people) money with no tangible benefit to show at the end of the day. Let’s put our efforts into solving the problem and not into finding out who is to blame and then debating it for the next five years. I say let’s get affordable power to the people and not more rhetoric. We need affordable power now!
The high cost of power is essentially another tax on top of VAT, duty and National Insurance. We do not need more taxes. We do not need higher cost. We need relief and we need it now. How does this relate to the Bible and to the plan of God? The Bible is full of references to justice, fairness and equity. The Bible states that when the righteous are in power the nation rejoices. We need to rejoice so we need people in power who make righteous judgements and ensure that burdens are lifted from the people.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to [email protected]. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.