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Bec Losses 'Won't Exceed $22m', Its Chairman Pledges

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BEC chairman Leslie Miller

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s (BEC) accounts receivables currently stands at $120 million to-date, its executive chairman yesterday estimating that the utility monopoly would suffer a loss of $20-$22 million for its current financial year.

Leslie Miller, during a press conference to announce a two-week amnesty on electricity disconnections for BEC’s residential customers, said that due to several cost-saving initiatives, BEC had realised overall budgetary savings of $3 million for the year to end-September 2013.

Mr Miller had disclosed back in March that BEC was, at the time, on track to lose 40-$50 million for the year that closes at the end of this month.

However, he said BEC had been able to significantly reduce its overtime payout, which had been averaging $12 million a year for the past five to 10 years.

“Due to methods such as rostering, flexi-time and a more streamlined approach to labour costs, we have managed to save some $5.89 million up to July 2013,” Mr Miler said.

“We are hoping to have that reduced by another $100,000 or so, so that it could be drastically reduced by at least 50 per cent over what we met here last year.

“We also looked at the methodology in hiring temporary disconnectors. By simply revamping the previous pay scale we were able to hire 22 more Bahamians as disconnectors and reconnectors. BEC trained them and we continue to pay them decent wages, averaging anywhere from $400 a week and above.”

The executive chairman added: “Our losses this year are now estimated to be around $20-$22 million. It wouldn’t exceed $22 million. We have made a lot of changes and cut back in certain areas to make sure this haemorrhaging stops.

“The next problem we have is collecting funds wheere some people owe us as much as $12 million.”

Mr Miller said several major companies had shut down in recent years, leaving large outstanding balances owed to BEC.

But operations such as Atlantis, which he praised as BEC’s “number one customer”, enabled it to meet its financial obligations.

“Without Atlantis, BEC would be in serious trouble,” Mr Miller said. “Atlantis pays us, on average, $5 million a month. The lovely thing is they call us and say the cheque is ready, unlike the rest who you have to break down the doors and threaten to turn them off.

“Atlantis is our number one customer and we thank them for it. Rupert Roberts, locally, is our number one customer. Mr Roberts has about 12 stores each averaging $70,000 a month, and his bill is always up to date and we thank him for what he is doing. It’s people like them who give us the cash needed to pay our bills.”

Mr Miller added that the Corporation has only recently begun to collect electricity payments from residents on Inagua.

“We have been collecting arrears from Inagua residents who have not paid their electricity bills in a long time,” he conceded.

“In fact, this is an issue that dates back 54 months. When we had the transition between Morton and BEC, no bills were paid. After our meeting with the residents last month we have already managed to collect more than $200,000 from that effort.

“The fault was really not their’s; the fault was ours and Morton’s because we took an inordinate amount of time to make the transfer and get everything back to speed.”

Mr Miller said BEC was being challenged financially with other issues, such as electricity theft, copper thefts at its plants in New Providence and the Family Islands, as well as its contribution to its employees’ - which he said was in excess of $12 million a year.

“The staff will be asked and mandated to make a contribution before the end of the year to their medical and pension plan,” said Mr Miller.

Comments

The_Oracle 7 years, 5 months ago

A private sector Chairman announcing something like that would be fired!! Amazing what they admit to in these announcements touting how great they're doing!

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concernedcitizen 7 years, 5 months ago

Good Lord 70,000 a month per store for super value ,no wonder food cost so much ..5million a month at Atlantis no wonder we can,t compete in tourism .By the time the politicians tell the truth ,that it is feasibly impossible to absorb our prolific baby making w/ public sector jobs it will be too late .we will be like Haiti ,the rich political elite ,no middle class ,and poverty for everyone else ..

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akbar 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't know why they don't tell the truth. The reason they want to sell it in its entirety is because no one wants to absorb the astronomical losses that occurs to run the Family Islands. Miles and miles of lines and equipment worth millions to collect a few cents on the dollar. And people don't be fool renewable energy is not designed to be cheap it is designed to leave a less of a carbon footprint. Renewable or alternate energy should first be tried out in the Family Island where the interruptions have minimial effect along the energy grid which leave more room for experimentation and perfection. From the former government made plans to electrify the FI without first reasearching the most cost effective way to do it BEC have occured huge losses . Don't get me wrong they need it just like everyone else but due dilligence should have been observed and not the desire to maintain a voting block. They say they aint doing a BTC but besides the Chairman running of his mouth and a bunch of companies selling pipe dreams have anyone heard or seen a scientific energy audit ? No talks of conservation of energy or ways to encourage it.We as consumers also have a responsibility. Yeah we paying for it but that doesn't mean we can't conserve it. After all energy production depends on resources that belong to the Almighty. It doesn't matter how you restructure it or if Asians claim they could produce it cheaper they more we produce they more we consume putting us right back to square one. Short term relief still long term problem. There must be a balanced and pratical approach and not to rush into things. A practice to common here in the Bahamas. Interestingly enough I heard a political figure tout the cost effectiveness of coal fired plants. Yeah you produce it cheaper but there is an immediate and heavy toll to pay on the environment. It goes to show to what extent these politicians would go because they simply are ignorant to certain things and only like to showboat. Lawyers know the law very few know or take the time to find out about other arenas of governance which they are responsible for. They say it is not going to be another BTC for what is being seen on the surface it sure looks so. No public consultation, secrets deals .Nothing in the selling of a public asset should be confidential unless national security is threatened. The only difference if this approach continues is who private pockets will be lined with monies from the public purse.

All praises due.

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