A planned increase to Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) bills is just another tax, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard argued yesterday.
“If the minister of finance is saying that they have to raise the bills in order to pay for it, then you cannot call what they are trying to get a ‘rate reduction bond,’” he said.
“You can’t call it that because of facts.
“A rate reduction bond in itself is a vehicle in which you say how much you’re going to lower the bill. Then, you tell me how much extra you’re going to put on for me to pay the bond. So, for instance, if you’re paying 40 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), you would lower the bill to 25 cents per kWh, then you add an extra five cents onto it and it would be 30 cents, so we save 10 cents.”
Maynard was responding to Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest who said if BPL does not increase light bills, the government would have to raise taxes to deal with the power company’s debt.
“Unfortunately, the cost of that fix is significant and in order to meet that, BPL, as a stand-alone corporation, has to raise the money,” Turnquest said.
“Otherwise, the taxpayers, the shareholders of the corporation, will have to inject the capital as equity. If we inject the capital as equity, it means that our tax bill will go up because we have to recoup that money.”
However, Maynard said what the government is proposing is a tax.
“So if you then say, ‘Okay, what I’m going to do is, I’ll just let BPL go up on their bills because they can’t sustain themselves’, then okay, you’re raising the bills,” he said.
“And you’re putting an additional tax on it. That’s what it is. It’s a tax.
“Basically you’re putting an additional tax to get BEC sorted out.”
On November 6, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister tabled the Rate Reduction Bond Bill in the House of Assembly.
BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said electricity consumers should brace for additional charges to their bills. The move comes as BPL attempts to tackle its more than $300 million debt.