Friday, May 29, 2020
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BPL saga continues to cost taxpayers

Dear Editor,

• Taxpayers continue to foot BPL saga costs

• Dark cloud over BPL thickens

• Our taxes are funding these missteps

• Public still awaiting reports on forensics, legal and travel

Following the unceremonious termination of the previous board of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) amid allegations of political interference and unethical behavior, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) called for a swift and independent investigation into these matters in August 2018. Nine months later, it remains unclear if and when the probe promised by the prime minister will be completed and a report issued to the Bahamian people.

The DNA notes the recent confirmation by the attorney general (AG) that the government has retained a local firm of private lawyers to defend the $1.1 million lawsuit against the minister of public works filed by former directors of BPL. This follows the signing of a contract with an international firm to probe the serious allegations against the minister responsible for BPL.

We note that our system of government provides public officials and offices with protections as corporate soles or legal entities. However, it is simply unacceptable for hardworking Bahamians and residents to be called upon time after time to bear the costs for the actions of Cabinet ministers who may have erred in the discharge of their duties and/or exercised poor judgment in the performance of their functions.

Taxpayers will once again have to foot the bill for the legal fees incurred for this BPL lawsuit in addition to the fees to be paid to the international investigation firm engaged by the government. It is an understatement to say that the dark cloud of cronyism, nepotism, contradictions and mismanagement continues to thicken over BPL.

We are concerned that having significantly increased taxes and fees on the backs of the Bahamian people, the government continues to waste our hard-earned money without any form of transparency or accountability. The provision of statistics and charts by the Ministry of Finance will not substitute for the specific questions and proper accounting for how this administration is spending the people’s money.

The public is still awaiting the total cost of the forensic audits or reports commissioned by the current administration when they assumed office, and the promised report on travel expenses due by December 2018 remains outstanding. The total legal fees paid to English counsel engaged by the government in the Frank Smith trial also remains shrouded in secrecy.

The mismanagement of BPL continues under an administration that governs on an ad-hoc basis. The Bahamian people will recall that BPL has invested $95 million of our taxpayers’ funds to generate 132 of the 220 megawatts required of Shell without a commitment or undertaking by Shell that we will be reimbursed or given an equity stake in the new power plant. It therefore remains unclear how our investment will be recouped from Shell.

The Bahamian people deserve better and the DNA remains the only vehicle for the delivery of good governance to the Bahamian people.

– Arinthia Komolafe, leader, Democratic National Alliance

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