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Fnm Deputy Questions Progress Of Bec Reforms

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K Peter Turnquest

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

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.

Comments

Economist 4 years, 7 months ago

The airport was a drain on the treasury and would still be if it were not for NAD. The fees were artificially low. On Treasury leak fixed.

BEC may, or may not, provide cheaper power if run privately, but should put an end to another Treasury leak. It may take a while for any new operator to bring the work ethic and staffing at BEC under control. For what it produces BEC is grossly over staffed.

The big question is, with all this secrecy, will get a real operator or just a hack like Renew Bahamas.

One has to wonder why Government is so scared of letting the people know what they are doing with the peoples assets. After all, we the people own BEC, it belongs to you and me.

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TalRussell 4 years, 7 months ago

According to da gospel Comrade BEC Chairman "Pot cake" Leslie - all who owe BEC, millionaire or poor pensioner, native or foreigner, you don't have rush pay they electricity bills in full, cuz the cabinet has granted 'ALL' BEC customers, regardless amount ya owes or have in your bank account, to have a grace period of (3) years to pay in full? That someone can owe $100,000 or millions and the same rule applies, as long as you pay a certain percentage bill upfront? At least that seems be the best excuse he can come up with, when asked explain, how is it that a man's who's delinquent on paying his BEC bill, can remain as the Chairman of BEC? Yet, we know of thousands who have had their lights cut off for owing but few hundred dollars? The amount he still owes BEC outstanding he says, is none of the taxpayers damn business. Tis his private business? But he also revealed that he did in fact file his 2014 MP's Financial Disclosure Statement, as required by law and although the media knows the amount he owes BEC is disclosed and available to the media, not one reporter can be bothered to read it, much less publish it? No, Comrades this is not a fake Comrade Tal blog. 'Tis almost word for word with some editzizing license, right out da Pot cakes own mouth. Now, reporters - what will you now do with this in da 'public domain' financial disclosures of da Chairman Pot cake?

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by TalRussell

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GrassRoot 4 years, 7 months ago

the issue is lack of knowledge and zero experience of most of the exponents of the government in doing a transaction like this. BTC is a perfect example that private companies only do the minimum to maximize their investment kept on a short leash. So key is that the contracts backing the licences are tough and benefit both parties involved.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 7 months ago

BEC will never work with a NAD model while being government-owned ...... not in The Bahamas. This is a perfect cop-out plan for politicians to have someone to blame.

Maybe if we take on a NAD style management with a BTC style sale arrangement OR simply let a foreign electrical company come in and run it EMERA style and sell shares to the public customers.

Can anyone say that the Nassau Port or even BTC or LPIA have been failures??????

Again, Perry is making HAI look like a genius everyday that passes.

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concerned799 4 years, 7 months ago

Sell to the highest bidder, with bidders pre-qualified to ensure all are sound and experienced.

Why is this hard?

Has not the model for a foreign owned power utility not been proven in the Turks and Caicos and other islands? Why re-invent the wheel?

If public ownership of BEC worked, we'd have known it a LONG time ago!

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