Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper last night slammed the government for allowing Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) to increase light bills following Hurricane Dorian.
After a summer of blackouts, “no one wants to pay BPL a red cent more”, Cooper said.
“I don’t like this new BPL tax,” Cooper said during the PLP’s Centreville branch meeting.
“It is an affront to Bahamians and could threaten to drive us into another recession. How could they possibly think higher bills makes any sense? I guess it’s the people time.”
He added, “They (BPL) say they need a total of $650 million.
“Guess how they want to pay for that? With a new fee on your bill. With a new BPL tax. Guess who will pay that? You. You, and your wife, and your children and the poor and the struggling business owner and the big business owner who will start to lay off and pass on the new BPL tax to the consumer.
“So, your light bill at home will be higher thanks to the new BPL tax. So, your light bill at work, and at your business will be higher thanks to the new BPL tax and the FNM (Free National Movement). And the cost of goods and services will be higher, thanks to the new BPL tax.”
On November 6, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister introduced the Rate Reduction Bond Bill in the House of Assembly.
That same day, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said electricity consumers should brace for “adjustments” to their bills via additional charges to their light bills, according to The Tribune.
The move comes as BPL attempts to raise $650 million to deal with its legacy debt of $321 million and to raise capital for future investment.
This led Cooper to ask last night, “All this in the wake of Hurricane Dorian?
“What timing. Are they really that heartless and thoughtless? I’ve been in private business for decades, almost my entire adult life.
“I have never heard a company say they want to fund their debt and expansion through a separate charge to consumers. Well, they have a monopoly, you know. That’s why we have to watch them. That’s why we call on URCA to be alert in regulating them.”
Since early June, BPL has been load shedding across New Providence due to a generation shortfall.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis called the situation a “crisis”, although he has clarified that it is not an energy crisis, but rather a crisis for the people forced to deal with the outages.
In August, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest declared that the government will spare no finances to find a short-term solution to the now months-long load shedding exercise that is plaguing residents on New Providence.
The following month, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister told The Nassau Guardian that Cabinet had approved the purchase of a 30-megawatt general electric engine to assist with the power generation issues.