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Miller: Top Hotel Owes Bec $10m

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BEC chairman Leslie Miller

By DANA SMITH

Tribune Staff Reporter

dsmith@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation chairman Leslie Miller said one of the country’s hotels owes BEC as much as $10 million in unpaid light bills.

With the corporation on track to lose an estimated $22 million this year, Mr Miller also revealed a staggering 90 per cent of residential BEC customers are in arrears, totalling about $26 million.

In an effort to combat this, he said, BEC has launched an “aggressive” summer campaign where customers will be offered a discount if they pay off their arrears; and customers who stay up to date with their bills also will be rewarded with a discount.

“Of our roughly 65,000 to 70,000 residential customers, 90 per cent have arrears more than 90 days past due... The value of those arrears is in the neighbourhood of $26 million,” Mr Miller said.

For the month of June, those customers behind on their bills are encouraged to pay off their arrears and in exchange, will be given a 10 per cent discount that will be applied to the portion of their bill that is more than 60 days past due.

“We realise that we do have customers who are capable and do pay off their bill every month,” Mr Miller continued. “This campaign is also meant to reward those people.

“Any resident customer who pays their bill in its entirety and on time for the months of June, July, and August will be given a 2 per cent discount.”

The discount will be applied after the final payment is made, Mr Miller explained.

“Now bear in mind that some of the hotels – the major hotels in this country too – some of them are grossly negligent in paying their bills. One hotel in particular owes BEC almost $10 million,” he continued.

“In some of our family islands, they owe millions of dollars; and we’re coming down on them, because what we found with the hotel industry – and that sector’s a peculiar one – most of their billing is paid by the guests because there’s a guest charge – a fuel surcharge that they passed on to their customers.”

So there is “no reason” why hotels’ bills shouldn’t be up to date, Mr Miller said, naming Atlantis as a “model” customer who consistently pays its bills on time.

“What is amazing, Kernez – Atlantis, pays BEC on time every month. In fact, most months they would call and say, ‘Could you please come and pick up your cheque’ and that amount exceeds $1 million a month; $6 million a month Atlantis pays BEC. If it wasn’t for Atlantis, we’d really, really be in trouble.

“Now if we could get these other hotels who would wish to be an Atlantis to come up and pay their arrears, we’ll be in good shape – but that’s a story for another day. But they owe us a significant amount of money, many of them, and we intend to try to recoup our money.”

Mr Miller added: “The problem is, the minute we even mention that, ‘You have to pay your bill or we’re going to turn you off’, their cry to us is ‘Fine, we’ll send 100 Bahamians home’. Of course you know what we do then, we keep them on because we don’t want no Bahamians to be out of a job.”

Mr Miller wouldn’t name any of the hotels that owe money, only adding: “They know who they are.”

Comments

turquoisecharm 7 years, 5 months ago

This is exactly the reason BEC should be privatized!! There is no private establishment that would consistently continue to carry arrears for customers who are negligent in paying their bill. Cut them off!! It is not BEC's responsibility to keep companies afloat. We the taxpayer ,(particularly honest ones who pay their bills on time), end up paying in the end with higher costs because of poor management decisions.

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ADubbs 7 years, 5 months ago

BEC is not responsible for ignorant business places that do not pay their bills. If they have to send their employees home, SO BE IT. Let them feel the wrath of the local media and the residents of this country that looove to march up and down for every single thing. CUT. THEM. OFF. The poor man is paying his bill. People are eating tuna and grits to make sure they can pay their bills. Why can't a major hotel pay theirs? CUT THEM OFF!

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TalRussell 7 years, 5 months ago

Is it not acting under false pretenses to have passed on to your guests an electricity surcharge, if in fact you are not paying it to BEC?

What's the difference between those offending hotels and the small time thug who snatches a tourists purse or camera?

If it's true as some are claiming that as a nation we're heading to hell, then corporate Bahamaland is the ship's captain?

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MartGM 7 years, 5 months ago

I hope Mr. Chairman is also ensuring his bills are in good standing!

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ChefSmith 7 years, 5 months ago

wow........ where are we heading. If a resort wish to be like Atlantis , it should pay its bills on time like Atlantis. Why give insentive to these people who dont have the country at heart ! Pay up your bills

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ayatollah 7 years, 5 months ago

Potcake you need to name them so we can shame. Them

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USAhelp 7 years, 5 months ago

Name the hotels so guest will know that the p lace they stay is crooked and stealing from all of us. They don't deserve to be in business.

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TalRussell 7 years, 5 months ago

Comrades amongst some of Bahamland's business word, locals and foreigners, it's their "Corporate Social Responsibility" to shortchange the natives.

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concerned799 7 years, 5 months ago

Time to privatize. Once in private hands a hotel will simply pay as no private elec co will let this go on. Instead all Bahmians are forced to pay with BEC not run on proper private business standards!

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Papsid 7 years, 5 months ago

Pay up or turn them off the bottomline. How do the Governorment allow a major hotel to owe tens of millions in unpaid bills. ONLY IN THE BAHAMAS

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John 7 years, 5 months ago

OK lets do some math, They say some $156 million is owinng to BEC. Bahamians collectively, meaning you, me and the bey next door (politicians excluded? and they friends too ? Ok) owe BEC $26 million. Then this one hotel, who name we shall not call, Owes BEC $10 million dollars, which is almost half of what ALL the Bahamians (who are named) owe BEC. BUT now when we add the $26million (what all the Bahamians owe) and the $10 million (wat this Hotel, who shall remain nameless owe), thats only $36 million so WHO owe BEC the other $120 million that is owing to the corporation?

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John 7 years, 5 months ago

At least tell us wat color shirt and neck time they have on cause this seems like a white collar crime

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Stinkle 7 years, 5 months ago

Mr. Miller has zero credibility on this issue as we all know he hasn't paid any light bills on his home and business since PLP came back into power!

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john33xyz 7 years, 5 months ago

Instead of government (under the disguise of bec) paying (by buying the fuel oil for the power plant) the power bills of these hotels - so they can keep 100 or 200 people employed - to the tune of millions of dollars,

perhaps they should calculate whether it would be better to PAY THESE EMPLOYEES TO STAY HOME and give them ONE YEAR to find new jobs, and let the hotel/s shut down.

In other words, the employees can go home NOW, and will keep getting their weekly or monthly checks from the government (instead of the hotel), and the hotel can shut down (if they wish) and face the courts for their arrears.

That may end up costing less money over the next 12 months. It may not - but it ought to be considered by those who have the figures to tabulate.

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retsof18 7 years, 5 months ago

What say what, this is rather startling what I am hearing with the collections of the BahamIan people's company B.E.C money

How could you allow an invested foreign company drill you with rubbish like losing Bahamian 100 jobs, that's black mail

That company/ Hotel assets should be freezed & they should be locked up in jail!

And,

What are we holding for about 3 months after a foreign investing company close for good in the Bahamas, as 'cash' against that company's arrears?

*Where are the economist do we have any here?

Listen man cut these lousy foreign investors who are drawing / veining our system for their gain

They are laughing at us you know, man wise UP!

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akbar 7 years, 5 months ago

Everytime crime out of control Mr Miller has his face splash across the newspapers with some outlandish claims. This is just a smoke screen to hide what is going on

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Kiley 7 years, 5 months ago

One of the biggest problems in this country is we are quick to say the foreigner should pay. But not a word about the 90% Bahamians that just think they don't have to pay there bills why?

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Ironvelvet 7 years, 5 months ago

So let me get this straight....I've paid my bill on time every month and I only get a 2% discount, but those who pay when they can/feel like it get 10% off? I do declare Mr. Chairman you are encouraging financial delinquency. Those with no shame and bad credit will not mind paying late so they can get their 10%. Cut off those who owe. That is plain and simple. There is no consequence for these people. Bahamians live in a no consequence society and thus make their own rules, then become outraged when someone tells them otherwise. This may seem minor to some but the old adage says a lier is a thief and a thief is a murderer....and we wonder why we are in such a crime ridden state! I agree with everyone above, this is white collar crime. Lock up the hotels! The authorities arrested the man for stealing electricity.....same thing!

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