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PM denies statement Sears made in House of BPL fuel hedge issue

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Philip Davis yesterday maintained that he had no knowledge that the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) fuel hedge committee had made requests last fall for fuel hedge trades to be executed to lock in oil prices, although Minister of Works Alfred Sears told Parliament last Wednesday that it was the minister of finance who made that decision.

Sears said a Cabinet paper on hedging was addressed to the minister of finance, and the minister of finance decided to reject the recommendation after reviewing it.

Sears said, “The draft Cabinet paper is addressed to the minister of finance for the minister of finance’s consideration. The minister of finance communicated that based on what was presented it was not supported. That determination was communicated in October of 2021 and what is the relevance?”

But when asked about Sears’ comments in the House, Davis said yesterday, “I saw no documents about that. Only this weekend, I was provided with some information concerning that, which I am now assessing to determine all the misstatements about what actually went on.

“What I do know is that the financial secretary had some views about it proceeding and I think those were the views that were adopted.

“I had no knowledge of it. He (Alfred Sears) said the Ministry of Finance had knowledge of this. That’s a big ministry. It was not me.”

Sears’ revelation came after both he and Davis denied ever receiving any briefing or any papers on the matter.

Michael Pintard, the leader of the opposition, raised the issue in the House, which led to Sears’ comments.

After Sears’ statement, the opposition leader accused him and the prime minister of previously misleading the House.

“In this House, I raised the question, did the minister with responsibility for [BPL] or the prime minister, were they aware of the recommendations that were made,” Pintard said.

“The member for [BPL] has just confirmed what I asked several weeks ago. Were you aware of the recommendations that had the potential to save the Bahamian people over $100 million?

“His answer on his feet, and the prime minister’s answer on his feet was no. They did not see any recommendation.”

Pintard added, “The member for Fort Charlotte has confirmed that what we were saying all along was the truth, which he denied over and over and over again and now, finally, faced with unimpeachable facts, he now points out that the prime minister, the minister of finance, was also aware.”

In the House of Assembly on October 26, Sears said, “I can say for the record that no draft Cabinet paper prepared by the honorable member (Pintard) or any of his colleagues has been presented to me …”

During that same sitting, Davis said, “The first thing we have to appreciate about advice when given, first of all, I received no advice or recommendations, saw no papers in that respect. I never saw any. None reached my desk and, as far as I am aware, it did not reach. The minister will speak for himself; that never happened.”

In October, Davis announced that BPL increased its monthly fuel charge effective October 1.

Davis said for customers who consume less than 800 kilowatt hours (kWh), the fuel charge will increase by two cents per kWh.

For those who consume more, the fuel charge will increase by 4.3 cents per kWh.

It is projected that the charge will be 12.5 cents in October-November 2022 for consumers who use less than 800 kWh.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.

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