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The Secret Elite Who Owe Bpl Thousands

A BPL truck out on the road.

A BPL truck out on the road.

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Tribune News Editor

tmthompson@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Power and Light has given politicians and government officials who were on a special “do not disconnect” list seven days to pay their “outrageous” bills or be disconnected.

BPL is owed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” by persons on this list, several of whom are said to be “active politicians”, The Tribune was told. Government House also owes BPL a hefty sum.

The hardline directive came from Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, who was consulted by Minister of Works Desmond Bannister about the practice the latter found in place by the Christie administration, which allowed elite members of society to rack up electricity bills as high as $50,000 and not be disconnected.

This while the average consumer can have his or her electricity shut off for an outstanding sum of as little as $200.

The Tribune understands the list includes several Progressive Liberal Party officials, government officials and at least one Free National Movement member. BPL issued the letters to the delinquent customers on Thursday. They will have the option to arrange a payment plan if they cannot pay in full.

While the government is adamant about collecting the unpaid utility bills from politically connected individuals, The Tribune understands Dr Minnis is also focused on going after companies with delinquent National Insurance Board (NIB) contributions and those who owe money to the Public Treasury.

The Tribune understands the prime minister, who previously told Parliament his own electricity was once cut off for non-payment, does not want to know who is on the “do not disconnect” list, but is resolute no one is above the law and those who cannot pay their bills should have their electricity shut off.

When contacted for comment, Mr Bannister told The Tribune: “BPL used to have a list and they used to put all the politicians and some other (well connected) people on it. The prime minister has said from the outset that we are not going to operate like that.

“As soon as I was able to learn of the existence of this list, I contacted him and he agreed there was to be no list and everyone was to pay their way.”

Mr Bannister said he has not seen the names on this special list, but told The Tribune he knows some of the sums owed are “outrageous.”

“I don’t know how someone could accumulate $30,000, $50,000 and not be concerned about paying BPL,” he added.

“They (officials at BPL) were instructed to send those letters out and we fully expect there will be nobody who will be exempt. (. . . Except) the GG, that’s the only person who should not be cut off, at Government House.

“I know Government House will pay; the message has to be that all of us are subject to the law and all of us must pay.”

When asked again who was on this list, Mr Bannister said: “I haven’t looked at the bills; I have not looked at the names. I don’t want to know the names. It’s not a political witch hunt and I’m not interested in who it is, just interested that BPL is going to be able to operate appropriately.

“When I was a minister (from 2007-2012) they cut me off twice – once I was in France on government business and they cut me off. Former Prime Minister (Hubert) Ingraham didn’t tolerate that nonsense. We have to let everyone know this is a country of law and order and we don’t operate that way.”

He added: “Since the election, I’ve had my headquarters turned off, my community centre in Carmichael has been turned off. It’s rented and I didn’t get the bill in time from my landlady and I went and paid it.”

When contacted by The Tribune, BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne could not say how many delinquent people are on this list or how much is exactly owed by those in this category.

“As a board, in terms of policy, and in terms of trying to improve the cash flow of the corporation, we would like to have all customers treated the same,” she said.

“Whatever the policy has been in the corporation in terms of management and what they do for regular customers in terms of receivables, in terms of if you fall on hard times, you come in and pay a percentage, whatever policy they have for regular customers, they have been instructed to deal with everyone in that manner.

“It’s just that there is no special treatment for anyone going forward,” Ms Osborne added.

In December 2016, Department of Statistics officials revealed that as many as 12,000 people had their power disconnected due to nonpayment.

Cyprianna Winters, a statistician, said at the time: “Approximately 10 per cent of households where the main source of lighting was electricity had their power disconnected due to nonpayment of their bills.”

Ms Winters said that “10 per cent” translates to about 12,000 people.

The survey was conducted between October 24 and 30 of last year.

Comments

TheMadHatter 4 weeks ago

Well muddo. U mean tings ga get betta for real? Dis a new guvmint eh?

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tell_it_like_it_is 4 weeks ago

Well this is certainly a start. Too much crap has been going on in this country for far too long... That is exactly how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer (by giving ALL the breaks to the people who need it least).

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrades! Cry shame on you PM Minnis, why you never asked for a list of lights not be cut off in the homes the poor and near poor residents/
Not to release to the public the list of politicians who's lights should have been cutoff immediately - including government house - is just offering special treatment of which ordinary out the political loop citizens are not extended.... and you have ask yourselves - - what other DO NOT CUT OFF special privileges are being extended-to the politically connected by other crown corporations, departments, ministries...and Bank Bahamaland?
The PM is being political by thinking only he was the power to tell BPL - don't cut off the lights --- until he tells them to cut off the politicians lights.....that is a whole new red shirts political interference problem. Same BS, different colour t-shirt - worn by the PM. Am I right? We all know what happens when PM Minnis extends the deadline for politicians meet deadlines....nothing happens.....case in point is MP's, who still have not filed Financial Disclosures!

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ohdrap4 4 weeks ago

Water and sewage has such a list as well.

A prominent politician once said: in the Bahamas only the poor or the unfortunate pay customs duty.

Only the poor and the unfortunate pay utility bills as well.

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OMG 4 weeks ago

You spout so much nonsense its easy to see why the PLP could get away with what they did. List the delinquent names and its a political witch hunt , don't name them and he is at fault.

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ohdrap4 4 weeks ago

List the delinquent names and its a political witch hunt

We will have to hunt the witches in the dark next week.

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

where is the list? i want to know names and their enablers. Who wrote the memo or made the call? anyone who believe that governments - at least the last one- actually believed in the average Bahamian after this can't be saved. And the jury is still out on this one. All talk the talk- I need some time to see if this government will walk the walk.

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TheMadHatter 4 weeks ago

Good points guys. I guess the day we Graham Weatherford as Min of Energy then we will know things are getting better.

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BahamasForBahamians 4 weeks ago

Hubert does not want to name and shame the politicians because he too is on the list.

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ohdrap4 4 weeks ago

Actually no. he was offered a space on the water and sewage list and declined.

The Punch has named your fellow PLPS on the front page today.

But plps are shameless and actually proud of not paying bills.

I have no respect for people who do not pay bills, I do not care who they are.

And , in fact, when a couple of my plp acquaintances get frisky with me, I remind them loud and clear in public spaces such as parking lots to go pay their bills. (not libel, i know the bills are not paid)

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

ondrap4- we are two of a kind in the bill paying department. No respect for bill duckers!

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BahamasForBahamians 4 weeks ago

This was not a question, Hubert is on the list. As well as his deputy Peter. This is why Hubert does not want to name and shame.

SKY Bahamas is also on the list.

Water and Sewerage was never a point discussed in this post so I am unsure why it is being included. I am not interested in WSC. You can reply to someone else's post attempting to raise this topic but you will be unsuccessful under any post that I've made.

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Economist 3 weeks, 6 days ago

DPM lives in Freeport so why is he on the list where BPL does not supply power or Water and Sewerage provide the water?

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licks2 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Because he talking crap as usual. . .

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realfreethinker 4 weeks ago

So should the names of the poor people who live over the hill, names be posted also?

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

If they owe 30-50 thousand yes. But of course that aint' happening right?

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrades! Why is the prime minister's personal fingers all over - if, whom and when to cut off the lights people and businesses who owe BPL monies?
The common thread here has nothing to do with the much promised transparency but a new prime minister wearing different colours t-shirt - placing himself and his minister in the same old political position of the previous Christie administration..... where BPL, was afraid to even think about cutting off the lights of the politically connected, without first getting the cutoff green light direct from the mouth of prime minister Minnis.
Comrades, wash it any way you wants but is this not direct and intentional political interference at BPL, by the very top red shirts heading the political governing machine? You tell me?
And, likes the names on the list, are not known up in the offices of the PMO?
Why not release all the names on the list- cause you PM did promise full and open red shirts governing transparency?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 weeks ago

Minnis, Bannister and Osborne are all bald-faced liars. Each of them knows the politically-connected persons and their companies, family members and conies whose names appear on the so called "secret list of elite". It is obvious many high placed FNM-connected names are on the list otherwise Minnis, Bannister and Osborne would have been only too happy to 'name and shame' those concerned. This is the only reason why Minnis, Bannister and Osborne do not want any 'name and shame' sunshine applied to the list. The same holds true of the many delinquent advances, overdrafts and loans granted by Bank of The Bahamas (BoB) to corrupt PLP and FNM politicians alike, including their companies, family members and cronies. Once again, we see Minnis being selectively transparent, only releasing information to us that suits his own political interests. This really makes Minnis no better than Christie! And to think Minnis had the gall to promise many times during the last general election campaign that his government would set the gold standard in transparency. What a joke!!

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

"we see Minnis being selectively transparent, only releasing information to us that suits his own political interests." All for emotional release and the appearance of change.

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ohdrap4 3 weeks, 6 days ago

the issuing of letters was foretold a few weeks ago. no doubt some rushed to pay bills to avoid being shamed.

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birdiestrachan 4 weeks ago

Banister should just do his job and stop looking to cast blame. If he has not looked at the list how does the Tribune know they are mostly PLP??. They pretend to be doing something. But they are just running around in circles. Chickens with no heads.

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrade, when was the last time anyone at BPL, extended door knocking courtesy at the doors to inquire of the poor and near poor customers of their political affiliations - before placing the locks on their lights meters? The PM and his minister have no business to be interfering with who's lights gets cut off. This should have been a BPL business decision and not a political cut off decision. The devil is clearly visible in the fact that BPL would not act - without the direct and personal cut off of lights of politicians, by the nation's prime minister.
The prime minister and his BPL minister, MUST resign!

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ohdrap4 4 weeks ago

Why is it that only the plps are squealing in this forum?

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OMG 4 weeks ago

Get real, we all know that pressure is brought to bear so that companies like W and S and BEC (as it was) toe the line.

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Reality_Check 4 weeks ago

It is now quite clear that key senior officials of PowerSecure were engaged in serious illegal acts to the extent the secret list of "do not disconnect" elites has on it Bahamas government officials responsible for negotiating, entering into and later varying the terms of the BPL/BEC management contract. PowerSecure's misconduct in this matter is tantamount to having bribed various officials of a foreign government by wrongfully and illegally granting them outrageously generous credit and other privileges they should not have received under the terms of the contractual relationship. The quid pro quo was PowerSecure's ability to maintain and occasionally vary for its benefit its highly lucrative contractual relations with BPL/BEC. Carl Bethel as our Attorney General should be filing a formal complaint under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with appropriate officials of the U.S. Government - The Department of State and the Office of the U.S. Attorney General . It is unfathomable that any reputable U.S. corporation in its dealings with a foreign government would allow such a "secret list of elite", largely comprised of politically exposed persons, to be kept.

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DDK 4 weeks ago

There was something imminently fishy about the Pillage Loot Plunder/Power Secure deal from get-go. They all need to be got gone.

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CatIslandBoy 4 weeks ago

Where is Leslie Miller? He always has something to say.

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrade CatislandBoy, please - let's not deflect away from PM Minnis's, and his BPL crown minister's political interference at BPL.... with that of a past and defeated politician's past BEC light bills owing deeds. He is gone from power - and so should PM Minnis and his BPL minister.
What we need is for Her Excellency Dame Marguerite to immediately appoint a Royal "Truth Communion" of Inquiry into BPL and what has been going on there - before and after May 10, 2017.
It is good that the BPL spotlight is shinning on the PM and his BPL minister's to cut off or not to cut off matter.

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DDK 4 weeks ago

Her Excellency who???????? A Royal Truth Commission!!! LOL!!!

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Clamshell 4 weeks ago

Leslie Miller? Bwwahahahahaha! Leslie Miller?

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DDK 4 weeks ago

Probably having luncheon at Government House!

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Gotoutintime 4 weeks ago

Leslie is now looking for money to pay his bill!!

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realfreethinker 4 weeks ago

Tal Russell. Thou doth protest too much. Are ye on said list?

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrade RealThinker, might I remind you that BPL is foreigner managed and to even consider the granting of special payment considerations to certain political types individuals or businesses - is something the attorney general might want concern his office with? Some may construe BPL's actions, at the minimum, as possibly an misguided attempt at influence peddling, by a foreigner identity?
Certainly, the PM and his BPL ministers actions, fall way short their transparency governing promises made to voters during the 2017 General Election... But maybe you think what they did is okay with the PEOPLE.....WELL, IT IS NOT OKAY!

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Clamshell 4 weeks ago

Honestly, is anybody here surprised? If you're surprised, raise your hand.

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The_Oracle 4 weeks ago

Name the crooked bastards. That is half the problem in this country. No shame, no shaming. No frigging real pride either. Yin and yang, cannot exist without each other. So few can stand tall in this country with impunity.

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DDK 4 weeks ago

"BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne could not say how many delinquent people are on this list or how much is exactly owed by those in this category."

IF THIS PERSON CAN NEITHER READ NOT COUNT WHY IS SHE CHAIRPERSON OF A PUBLIC CORPORTION?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 weeks ago

Amen to that!

Osborne, Bannister and Minnis are now all engaged in one big cover-up scandal to protect corrupt elitist politicians and their friends, family members and business cronies from being named and shamed. Like Christie and Ingraham before him, Minnis is playing the role of a dirty politician who tells his opponents: "Ya better hold ya tongue when talking' 'bout me or I gonna spill da beans 'bout ya!"

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justthefactsplease 4 weeks ago

This government needs to decide if it is indeed going to BE transparent or if it is going to just TALK about being transparent. Transparency demands that you publish the list and not just say there is a list. So Mister Prime Minister, show us this transparency you talk about.

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrade JusTTheFactsPlease, can you name just one example where PM Minnis and his red shirts colleagues, have actually practiced transparency since May 10, 2017? It's all from rear end part - red shirts bull! Best you wash your hands.... after shaking hand a red shirts politician. They is nasty!.

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Clamshell 4 weeks ago

If you shake hands with a yellow shirt, his other hand will be in your pocket.

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DDK 4 weeks ago

“I know Government House will pay; the message has to be that all of us are subject to the law and all of us must pay.”

And exactly WHO pays the bills for Government House? Speaking of Government House, was not its current esteemed occupant on the 'do not disconnect list' prior to her appointment? Speaking of which.............. is that in itself surely not sending a mixed message?

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

they sure know how to spend the people's money- just not their own.

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrades! The secret world of red shirts government debt collection at BPL, is just the tip the iceberg. All the money for BahamaCARE has been redirected by the PMO to fund BPL-CARE!
{ No need make this stuff up

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Craig 4 weeks ago

As a non-elite I can only imagine how deep this corruption rabbit hole goes. Those that benefit from these corrupt practices probably think they are entitled somehow, more deserving in some way than the general public.As one of the commentators stated this practice probably exist in other government owned companies and government agencies such as NIB. As the president of the World Bank said Corruption is “Public Enemy Number One” in Developing Countries. Let's root it out at all cost!

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realfreethinker 4 weeks ago

The list of delinquent customers at BPL is said to be about 12000,do you want the government to print the entire list?.I think that will be morally wrong if not illegal.

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

only those above the poor peoples limit of 200.

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OldFort2012 4 weeks ago

Only in a seriously fucked up joke of a country can some deadbeat who does not pay his electricity bill be called an "elite". Call him what he is: a criminal who has received a bribe. Seize his assets, sell them. Then send his ass to jail.
We were left a country with no debt and a system of democracy and laws that was near perfect. In 40 years we have managed to bastardize it to this. I feel nothing but shame. I blame the British myself. In the same way as a loving parent does not give the keys to a powerful car to a 9 year old, so they should never have left us in charge with no supervision. Too late now. We wrecked the car and are in hospital in a coma. However much the dear Doc. might try, we are clinically dead. Someone should pull the plug. And arrange the funeral. PS: it seems that the more reverends, bishops, archbishops, popes, churches, etc, a country has, the lower the morality of the population.

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Gotoutintime 4 weeks ago

Don't blame the British---The problem started in 1967!!

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Emac 4 weeks ago

Agreed! This place we call home is a really trying place. I still don't understand how we manage as a country, when the majority of the leaders are corrupt to the core!

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ThisIsOurs 4 weeks ago

I think each minister should be given a phone light and water allowance each month in the amounts of 150, 300, 100 respectively. There would then be zero excuses fir not paying a bill because the country has afforded you what would be a reasonable monthly usage allowance. All of this is null and void if they get a salary increase.

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Emac 4 weeks ago

Are you kidding me?! Why should we give the "elite" a pass and burden the poor. This has got to be the worst suggestion I hear coming from you.

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Giving public officials allowances is a standard practice. As it stands they get a 28,000 salary. This doesn't make them elite, it's simply a function of the position.

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Emac 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Standard practice??? Please, do tell us of any other country where this standard practice happens

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

this is the dumbest statement on this thread. why should we the people pay their bills any more than we already do? Giving them the money isnt the problem- ask them what they DO with the money given to them for constituency offices etc.

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 6 days ago

They don't receive any money, they have a monthly credit at the company, it doesn't accumulate. Anything over the monthly sum they are responsible for. I believe a utility allowance is in order, they're leading our country, they should have guaranteed phone, light and water in reasonable allowances The reality is, their office makes them different from the average man, I don't have a police officer shadowing me or driving me where I want to go and I don't sit in cabinet meetings. When they leave office the allowance goes.

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrades! I'm banking on the list of the 'Secret Elite' who owes BPLcare, thousands of dollars in unpaid light bills to be the worst kept secret, since who among the white merchant Bay Street Boys - murdered Sir Harry Oakes in his Cable Beach residence's bedroom?
Even Bahamaland's Governor-General at the time, the former King of England, failed at sending an innocently charged man's to meet his heavenly maker - by ducking out on keeping a planned court ordered appointment with the colonial colony's Hangman's noose.

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proudloudandfnm 4 weeks ago

NO PAYMENT PLAN! CUT THEM OFF UNTIL THEY PAY THE WHOLE THING....

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Bonefishpete 4 weeks ago

Perhaps the List would be shorter if it included Those Not on the List.

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sheeprunner12 4 weeks ago

There should be NO secrets in a public corporation or company ....... that is a misnomer

The SECRET LIST should be made public forthwith ........ that is no witch-hunt

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TalRussell 4 weeks ago

Comrades I am not making this up but who would've thought back on Monday, May 15, 2017 up atop Mount Fitzwillam that on the occasion of the new prime minister Minnis being sworn-in - that whilst thanking Her Excellency Dame Marguerite for her gracious, fine hospitality, and that of the fine staff of Government House... that the light bill hadn't been paid..... I mean, how can Minnis and the Dame, be partying on the taxpayers (the poor and near poor peoples) dimes, when the lights could have been cut off for non-payment at anytime?
I have ask, if the government house staff, served champagne and wine - red and white..... And, I'll wager odds that the booze suppliers were paid in full....but we know knows, that the lights people, were not paid? { Like I say, I ain't making this up }.

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ohdrap4 3 weeks, 6 days ago

a politician's trick is to put the utility bills in their wives name, so their name do not go on the paper.

in the gated community where i live there are some people on such list and when the govt changes the people come to turn off the lights. Last time they decided not to open the gate to the bec guys, but the service is disconnected remotely. they left the yellow notes stuch to the entrance gate, and people were stopping the car to read the names on the yellow slips.

but seriously folks, the spv for the legacy debt is coming and they will have to disconnect the bill duckers because no one will stomach a fundraiser to pay the plp supporters bill.

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juju 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Ha! I hope that they don't send the letters out by snail mail as it will take the usual three weeks to arrive locally. I will believe what Dr. Minnis says when they start disconnecting "the list".

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jboo 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Yes there is a "do not disconnect' list but that information is private. Some may be politicians but they are citizens first and citizens have a right to privacy. Whoever is on the list is not the business of the Bahamian people because of what purpose what that serve? Bahamians just like drama and gossip. It doesn't matter who is on the list, the bright side is this corrupt practice has been discontinued and everyone will be treated fairly. Pay what you owe! And for those people who are saying Hon.Dr. Hubert Minnis shouldn't decide who's light stays on or off obviously the light in their brain has cut off.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 6 days ago

No one has a right to privacy when they have committed serious crimes and stealing electricity with the aid and abetment of others is just that - a serious crime! In the same way that Minnis made sure the alleged crimes against three former PLP cabinet ministers were well publicized, he should publish the secret BPL "do not disconnect" list.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 6 days ago

The BPL list of 'elites' is only the very tip of the iceberg. Here are just a few more secret lists of privileged elites that should be made public:

The "do not disconnect" BPL/BEC list

The "do not trouble" for non-payment of VAT list

The "do not trouble" for non-payment of Business License fees list

The "do not penalize" for non-payment of Real Property Tax list

The "do not disconnect" Water & Sewerage list

The "do not trouble" for non-payment of Customs Duty list

The "do not pay stamp duty" on property transactions list

The "giveaway Crown Land" list

The "lease my property to government" for outrageous rental income list

The "my free money from Bank of The Bahamas" list

The "do not trouble" for non-payment of National Insurance contributions list

Etc., etc. etc. ....list after list, after list!

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SP 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Mr. Bannister said he has not seen the names on this special list and BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne could not say how many delinquent people are on this list or how much is exactly owed by those in this category??

If NOBODY has seen or knows anything about this elusive list, how did they conclude there is a list and what is owed by whom?

Either Bannister or Osborne think we are all totally stupid morons or they are playing from Perry Gladstone Christies smoke and mirror playbook!

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Osbourne did not say HOW many people/companies are on this list ....... and what was the TOTAL bill of this "elite list" ....... What kind of transparency and accountability is this????? Does anyone have the list....... so that we can ALL see what is owed to OUR public corporation???????

Just saying ....... If Leslie Miller owed 300K, then if we multiply that by at least 150-200 others, we are talking about $50 million ......... WOW!!!!!

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