DPM: No finances will be spared

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest declared yesterday 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 whole BPL (Bahamas Power and Light) matter has become obviously quite a concern for the government as it is an inconvenience for the people,” Turnquest told reporters outside Cabinet.

“We recognize this is a significant issue and we must get on top of it and so…no finances will be spared if there is a solution that can be brought in the short term.”

He added, “It would require some kind of borrowing for sure.”

The minister said the government would have to be transparent about any borrowing and “come to Parliament and explain it” as well as put a plan in place “to return to fiscal responsibility principals as soon as possible”.

Turnquest was responding to questions over how the government would go about providing emergency funding for BPL to purchase additional rental generators.

When asked if BPL had indicated how much funding it would need, Turnquest said, “I’m hesitant to answer that question directly at the moment because there has not been any final request of us. I am sure that there will be some disclosures that will come in short order as to what they’ve asked of the government to assist with their plans.”

The deputy prime minister said the timeline for the funding will depend on BPL.

“So, they will come to the government when they are prepared to say what exactly it is that they need and we will respond to whatever that is,” Turnquest said.

Daily power outages have plagued residents and businesses on New Providence for more than two months due to a generation shortfall.

On Friday, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said the company did not bring in more rental generators to make up for its shortfall this year because it could not afford the extra cost.

BPL brought in 25 megawatts of rental generation in June.

Yesterday, Turnquest said the power company has put forth a “workable” plan.

“It seems to be a sensible solution and we’re working towards that to the extent that they need assistance to make that happen,” he said.

“If it can be accelerated, certainly we will find the resources to do that because we recognize it is a national, important issue. It is an important issue, particularly here for New Providence as our major economic hub. So, whatever it takes to ensure that we can get reliable, consistent supply of energy back as soon as possible, we will do that.”

In March, BPL announced that Finnish technology group Wartsila will install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at Clifton at a cost of $95 million to increase the generation capacity on New Providence.

The plant, originally slated to be completed by September, will not be finished until mid-December, BPL officials said.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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