By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Minnis administration has “no clear vision for energy reform” Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip Davis said yesterday, adding that if the current government had followed the former administration’s “blueprint,” the country would not be where it is today.
Mr Davis made these remarks during a press conference at the PLP’s headquarters, where he condemned the current costs of energy and blamed the Free National Movement’s “political interference” and misfires for the country’s current situation.
“Energy sector reform is another important issue to Bahamians,” Mr Davis said. “The cost of energy is too high and is preventing our economy from becoming globally competitive and contributing to the high cost of living.
“Reducing the cost of energy is a game changer for our economy and the quality of life for average Bahamians but to date the government has delivered political interference; a promised investigation that has not materialised; a failed and expensive voluntary separation programme that depleted the corporation of critical skillsets, competencies and organisational memory; a walk back of the voluntary separation programme through rehiring; four fires that resulted in the loss of more than 100 megawatts in power generation capacity; and warnings of increases in the electricity bill to as much as 70 percent.
“There is no clear vision for energy reform — just in-fighting, interference, cover-ups and cronyism all at the expense and inconvenience of a very dissatisfied and disgruntled customer base.
“Needless to say, this does not engender public confidence in either (Bahamas Power and Light) BPL or the political directorate charged with the beleaguered corporation’s superintendence and now we take note of the action being initiated by the former chair.”
This month it was revealed that former BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne has hired attorney Alfred Sears to secure payment from the government for defamation and breach of contract relating to the shock dissolution of BPL’s board in August.
The defamation claim springs from comments Works Minister Desmond Bannister made after the board disintegrated.
When asked what the PLP’s energy reform plan would be, Mr Davis pointed to the current framework, introduced by the previous PLP administration.
“Our plan is the legislative construct that is presently obtained. When we came into office, we did a whole slew of legislative changes. We introduced a whole new legislative regime for energy reform that was based on a new entity called BPL, that would have produced reliable, affordable energy to the Bahamian people.
“And you now hear the minister bragging about the fact that you could produce your own electricity. Well that was all part of our plan. If you look at the new electricity bill, there’s a new bill…to ensure that URCA would be overseen, the rate charges of BPL are to receive complaints about their services.
“We introduced a bill called the rate reduction bond that was to be able to go into the money market to raise sufficient funds to take care of all of its legacy debt. Our plan, they met it in place. And all they needed to do was follow the blueprint and we would not be where we are today.”