By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Deputy leader Peter Turnquest yesterday questioned the government’s progress on proposed reform plans for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, which have not materialised since Prime Minister Perry Christie first announced them in August 2013.
Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, during a contribution to the Electricity Amendment Bill 2014, Mr Turnquest said it was an understatement that the BEC process was “sketchy”.
The Bill would allow Bahamians to produce their own electricity through alternative measures and be credited by the government for the kilowatts they contribute to the electricity grid.
Mr Turnquest said: “After months of alleged negotiations with unnamed entities, however, the planned strategy has changed and it is rumoured that a management contract will be pursued instead, leaving us to wonder, what dynamic has changed.
“The sketchy details of the new thrust in reforming BEC on the face of it will not benefit Bahamians in the long-term or lead to tremendous savings.
“From what we understand, the government intends to follow the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) model, placing BEC management in the hands of international managers for a guaranteed return on their investment plus fees.
“Anyone who has travelled lately knows that the development and privatisation of NAD has not resulted in lower fees.”
The East Grand Bahama MP said that while he supports the privatisation of BEC, it needed to be done the right way.
The Tribune attempted to question Works Minister Philip Davis on Mr Turnquest’s assertions, however he said he could not stop to comment because he was late for a meeting.
In August 2013, Mr Christie said two separate companies would take over the management and power generation at BEC. At the time, he said the contracts would be signed at the end of 2013.
However last December, 16 months following Mr Christie’s initial announcement of the plans for BEC, Mr Davis brought further confusion and speculation over the matter when he confirmed a Tribune Business report that the government had abandoned its previous plans for a split.
He said the Christie administration was opting to select a single private sector “manager” for all of BEC’s operations. It came amid his repeated promises to reporters that the process surrounding BEC’s reform was drawing to a close.
As of last month, three companies were bidding to manage the corporation, according to Mr Davis.