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Bpl’S Elite List 'Just A Privilege'

FORMER Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation Leslie Miller.

FORMER Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation Leslie Miller.

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Bahamas Electricity Corporation Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said yesterday there is nothing “unusual” about parliamentarians, top civil servants and churches being placed on a special “do not disconnect” list at Bahamas Power and Light.

In fact, Mr Miller claimed the list has been around since the 1970s and remained in place through both the Free National Movement  and Progressive Liberal Party  governments.

The Tribune understands at least one serving FNM Cabinet minister and two former PLP Cabinet ministers currently owe BPL more than $10,000.

The Tribune attempted to contact the men, but calls were not returned up to press time.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Miller claimed being on the list does not mean a person won’t be disconnected. He said it simply ensures a “courtesy” call will be placed to warn persons that their power is at risk of being disconnected.

Mr Miller served as executive chairman of BEC, now called BPL, until late 2015. He was removed from his post at the government owned utility provider shortly after the Christie administration announced a transition services agreement had been signed with PowerSecure.

Mr Miller, who has been previously disconnected for an unpaid light bill while chairman of the corporation, said he is currently not on BPL’s special list and is still on a payment plan for Mario’s Bowling & Family Entertainment Palace.

“I am aware of the list and no I am not on the list. My things are in order, I have not gotten a letter from BPL,” Mr Miller told The Tribune.

In 2014, it was revealed Mr Miller and one of his family-owned businesses owed BEC a total of $239,533.33. His family later paid $100,000 towards the bill by cashier’s cheque.

“That list has been around since politics in this country began,” he added. “It was there when I was first appointed chairman in 1989. It was there through the PLP and the FNM and everyone in government adhered to it. I have personally never seen it, I never asked for it but I know the list has top civil servants, churches, members of Parliament, senators and persons like that. As far as I know being on the list does not mean that you could not be turned off, it just means that someone would call you to make arrangements and give you that courtesy. Like I said, this list has been around for decades and through all governments.”

Mr Miller said he doesn’t think the list is “unfair” but said it is just a special privilege parliamentarians receive in the Bahamas.

“This isn’t anything political to be honest, this didn’t even start with politicians,” Mr Miller said.

“The list was started by senior civil servants. I am not saying it is right and I am not saying it’s wrong, but I can tell you the persons always pay. If you don’t want to follow it any more then don’t. I mean the first day I was appointed as chairman, I went home and my lights were off.

“So obviously parliamentarians can get their lights cut off. I just don’t feel like it is fair for people to continue to make public certain people’s light bills, in an effort to shame them.”

On Monday, The Tribune revealed that BPL gave politicians and government officials who were on the special “do not disconnect” list seven days to pay their “outrageous” bills or be shut off.

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.

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 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.

Comments

TalRussell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Comrades! Jumping onto the BPL/BEC 'do not disconnect list' is, has and will never will be available to the 'poor and near poor customers' of the electricity corporation. There are no such of a thing as a 'courtesy' call that will be placed to warn 'poor and near poor persons' that their lights is at risk of being disconnected. Their only notice is the fridge starts self-defrosting., or the children's experiences sudden darkness.

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stopit 3 weeks, 6 days ago

I do not believe Mr. Miller when he say that that list is just for courtesy calls. That is the mindset of some of our people who think that THEY ARE ENTITLED to rape and robe the Bahamian people and tell them BOLD FACE LIES. I like what PM Minnis is doing and if he continues he will surely get my vote next time.ROOT UP CORRUPTION!!!

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proudloudandfnm 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Cut all of them off. No.payment plan.

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Naughtydread 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Pay your bill you fucking BUM!

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Comrades! I try search my heart for a positive over a negative but there are no positives for a chairman of BEC, who just happened to also be an elected member of the House of Assembly - with declared assets in the many millions of dollars - placing himself on BEC's 'do not disconnect list.' With elected office and acceptance of political appoints to positions of authority- -falls responsibility - and you Pot cake, will always be plagued for the answer? But I do believe you are much too intelligent to play the stupid you present when its the most convenient role for you personally.

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watcher 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Miller STILL doesn't understand why it was that we had had enough, and the PLP were annihilated

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sealice 3 weeks, 6 days ago

A courtesy call - like the rest of the country isn't good enough for a courtesy call??? FLUCK YOU!! all politicians - we need (5) years of anarchy here to cleanse all the idiots and thieves from our politics..

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Here are just a few of the secret lists for privileged elites that should be made public:

  1. The "do not disconnect" BPL/BEC list
  2. The "do not trouble" for non-payment of VAT list
  3. The "do not trouble" for non-payment of Business License fees list
  4. The "do not penalize" for non-payment of Real Property Tax list
  5. The "do not disconnect" Water & Sewerage list
  6. The "do not trouble" for non-payment of Customs Duty list
  7. The "do not pay stamp duty" on property transactions list
  8. The "giveaway Crown Land" list
  9. The "lease my property to government" for outrageous rental income list
  10. The "my free money from Bank of The Bahamas" list
  11. Etc., etc. etc. ....list after list, after list!
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Reality_Check 3 weeks, 6 days ago

The "do not trouble" for non-payment of National Insurance contributions is also one of the more popular secret lists for privileged elites!

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happyfly 3 weeks, 5 days ago

dont forget a free pass on labor disputes from the labor board.

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Reality_Check 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Just like Miller doesn't think there's anything wrong with BPL's 'elite' list, he didn't think there was anything wrong being in business with his son as a drug dealer. His only regret, his supply of cash dried up when son got murdered (executed) in a drug deal gone bad.

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Clamshell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Since when is free electricity a "privilege" of being a politician or a preacher or some other high-up muckety-muck? Sweet Jeezus, even Donald Trump pays his freaking electric bill. And in the U.S., they actually put crooked politicians in jail when they catch them. Miller and 10 dozen others should be working out of two buckets at Fox Hill Prison.

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DDK 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Bollocks, Mr. Miller. What a prince! Parliamentarians should lead by example. If the "privilege" has been around for decades, then it is certainly time it ceased. A corporation that cannot keep the power on and destroys the electrical equipment of its consumers on a regular basis should not have the audacity to allow bills of the chosen few to go unpaid and effect BEC's ability to provide proper, proactive maintenance and timely replacement of generation equipment and cables, not to mention personnel.

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Comrades! The Pot cake mentality has now become the thinking of the red shirts...... Losers in eyes the PEOPLE - thinking nothing of being placed above the PEOPLE on the exclusive 'Do not disconnect my lights, or call-in my loans, lists.' Comrades! What we needs is legislation for a "Light Bill Debtors' Prison?" A debtors' prison for politicians and the politically connected - who can well afford pay they lights bills, but don't.
Amen!

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Craig 3 weeks, 6 days ago

This article is poignant example of cronyism of the highest order. How can a man be appointed chairman of an entity to whom his family owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding debt and worst yet be allowed to rack up this amount of debt in the first place and still be considered for the post. Regarding the so called elite. I guess we have our own definition of elite in the Bahamas, those who don't, refuse to and believe they don't have to pay their bills like us ordinary folks.

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Comrade Craig, what if a major landlord to the PLP government was to continue being the prime minister landlord to his own red shirts government? What if crown red shirts crown cabinet ministers were appointed that had ongoing business and unpaid bills with their new government? What if one, or more, red shirts crown ministers, haven't been heard from since before Hurricane Irma, made landfall in the Bahamaland? What if the June 30,2017 deadline for MP's and senators to file their Financial Disclosures has come and gone and the PM has done nothing about it? What if PM Minnis and KP, turned their backs on the poor and near poor PEOPLE's not having to pay VAT on the "Bread Basket Items" they done can hardly afford to pace into their groceries shopping buggies? In realty, this is a red shorts reality!

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The_Oracle 3 weeks, 6 days ago

And thus Mr. Miller illustrates exactly what has been the downfall of the Bahamas since independence. Politicians and senior civil servants placing themselves above the law. The Privileged few, the select. Above all the mundanities of bill paying or accountability. And well Mudda is correct, and his list isn't comprehensive either. Do not forget their "special duty exemptions" above and beyond what the common man gets. A full and complete disgrace. To hang their heads in shame low enough they would have to remove them and throw them in a banana pit!

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Gotoutintime 3 weeks, 6 days ago

My next life I'm coming back as a politician---"Every ting" free!

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johnmcntsh 3 weeks, 6 days ago

We have neighbors who will not come to the Bahamas anymore because the last two times, while staying in a rented house in Abaco, lost all their refrigerated food because of power outages. I am very pleased that the new government is addressing this kind of corruption.

NO ONE deserves special treatment except those who are disadvantaged. .

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Comrade Johnmcntsh, ever heard about former prime minister Hubert's, BEC’s $105 million Wilson City, Abaco power plant?

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johnmcntsh 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Tal, you can continue to revisit the past to justify bad behavior if you like. For me I am happy the problem and corruption is being addressed. I am sure you can go back to the 1950's to find something on a party you obviously despise. WHAT MATTERS IS NOW!

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Do all modern countries follow these "elite rules"?????? ......... HMMMMMMMMM

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OldFort2012 3 weeks, 6 days ago

"The list exists since the 70s". What happened in the 70s? Oh, yes, Independence. LOL. What he is actually saying is that we went for Independence so we could steal from ourselves. I would quite simply hang this man in Parliament Square, as an example to the other thieving bastards.

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SP 3 weeks, 6 days ago

"Mr Miller claimed the list has been around since the 1970s and remained in place through both the Free National Movement and Progressive Liberal Party governments.

Thank GOD There's a NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN!

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Greentea 3 weeks, 6 days ago

This dude and the PLP are completely out of touch- do you think working and unemployed bahamians bearing the brunt of the political class's fiscal incompetence trying to hear this sheet? Dumb ass. It is so clear why we are in the shape we are in.

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TheMadHatter 3 weeks, 5 days ago

He said it simply ensures a “courtesy” call will be placed to warn persons that their power is at risk of being disconnected.

Really?

Everyone could receive this "courtesy" today very easily with automated texting technology. Why can't I get a text (automatically by the computer system) letting me know I am at risk of being disconnected and giving me like 5 or 7 days to pay? Or do I need to pay my $400 and run for MP in order to get this? Oh, I guess I need to win too. Sorry.

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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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young242 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I want to see the entire list, not just 9 persons, all on that list must be public figures.

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young242 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The entire list needs to be published.

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young242 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Reality_check - you really should watch what you say about people (especially families private affairs) in a country that is only 400,000 strong. I sure your family isn't made up of all saint. It's attitudes like that way so many people are killing one another.

Just saying there is a time and a place for everything, and this wasn't the place or the time for that comment.

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Give each MP the same flat credit at each utility company. No cash involved. Anything over the credit allowance they are responsible for paying. No more fuzzy rules about how much they're allowed to credit at the company. Paying utilities for executives is a common practice. 300 light, 100 phone, 150 cable, 120 water for a two family home. Add 100 to light and 70 to water for a four family home. The idea is not to subsidize any outrageous usage they think they deserve, but to give them an allowance for what reasonable usage would be. The office is recognized as deserving of a privilege, but the politician the public and the utility company workers have clear indication on what the limits are

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