Electric bill ‘like a second mortgage’


Gowon Bowe


Deputy Chief Reporter 


THE increased value added tax exemption ceiling on power bills will have “limited” impact on consumer expenses, Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants President Gowon Bowe has insisted, while likening spiked electricity costs to having a second mortgage.

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Mr Bowe said that what is troubling for most is that the government has given no clear indication of when electricity bills will be at an acceptable level.

Given what appears to be a bleak prospect, he said Bahamians must demand that the government demonstrate there is a plan of action and a timeline to bring normalcy and affordability in the shortest timeframe.

On Wednesday at Parliament, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the VAT ceiling on Bahamas Power and Light bills would increase to $300 pending approval from the House of Assembly. The increase is only temporary and will last until the end of next June.

The ceiling for VAT exemption on electricity bills was set at $200 during the 2018-2019 budget debate earlier this year.

“I’m not personally a fan of exemptions (on VAT),” Mr Bowe told The Tribune yesterday. “I think that we need to try and keep the base as broad as possible so that the cost of other items doesn’t go up.

“While the bills may be exempt, the input that BPL will have into their operation are not VAT exempt and so that means the cost structure is going up and if that happens it means the underlying bill is going up.

“So notwithstanding there will be some relief from the bill amount not having VAT added on it, if your bill was previously $300 and VAT was $36 so $336, so if your bill is now $328 and there is no VAT that still is a significant increase over the $300.

“It provides some relief but really limited in the impact it will have because ultimately if government waives VAT on a particular item, it has to collect it from some other means in terms of increased cost elsewhere and persons are not looking to have a shift in where they spend the money they want to see an overall reduction in the cost of living.”

Mr Bowe said he believes higher electricity costs were the result of the lack of progressive thinking when it comes to energy supply.

“When we look now certainly in terms of the oil prices and the age of the equipment we know that we are going to have instability and lack of affordability. The most important aspect is really to have some kind of timeframe when this is going to be solved. When I say that I mean between what is the long-term solution, which they have indicated the MOU with Shell North America and the hopes this is something that will have an energy efficient plan by 2022, but more importantly what is going to be done in the intermediate period? “When we talk about there now being all options on the table being called for the real question is why wasn’t that a part of the original plan because any long-term solution was always going to require a set period of time before it would be available.”

He continued: “The concern that most citizens have is there seems to be an open timeline for when the bills will be at a level that is acceptable. Certainly, from the business community standpoint, these utility costs are like having a second mortgage. They have become a significant component in the operating expenditure and even more important is that there has been a lack of stability where you can rely on the supply to be up all the time. “So certainly, there is an additional cost coming about in terms of purchasing back up supplies and so that is an increased cost that will go on to the consumers whether it be in the price of goods or services and so what we really need is to really see the comprehensive future projections related to BPL,” Mr Bowe said.

On Wednesday Dr Minis noted the undue burden electricity costs have put on citizens and further assured Bahamians that he remained resolute regarding the need for this country to substantially reduce its energy costs.

Pledging his government would continue to explore the cost of energy, the prime minister said a substantial transition to solar and other renewable energy supplies will be made.

Dr Minnis also said changing trends in the cost of the delivery of electricity will inform any decision to extend the increased exemption ceiling into the new fiscal year, beginning July 2019.


DDK 3 years, 10 months ago

The Government has no idea how to handle Value Added Tax. They had no idea at its inception and have even less insight now. Put a tool in the hands of idiots and what can we expect? Almost everything in this country is in a shambles. IT IS THE PEOPLE'S TIME!

Any word yet on the investigations of the BEC/BPBL fires. More crime, corruption and complicity?


Bonefishpete 3 years, 10 months ago

In for the "Do you miss me yet" Leslie Miller meme


Chucky 3 years, 10 months ago

Let's be honest....

DDK, the government knows what it's doing; perhaps you and others just don't like it.
The government did it's "job" by raising VAT. It's job being continuing to farm the tax base for more money. That's what government's do. Sadly they all. Yes that's all government's do this, but not just to run the nation. But also to increase the size of the kitty that they can steal from.

All government's are run by thieves who do everything possible to enrich themselves and their cronnies; and also to support their narssistic policies.

BEC bills rising. Well that is the same issue. But not so much to cover fuel as it is to raise more money.

They know what they're doing , they benefit every time someone suggests they're incompetent. Because that is a lot better assertion than that they are thieves.

So yes, they're stealing more from the people via BEC. That's what they do.

Get used to it. They have another 100 reasons lined up for the next 100 cash grabs as well.

You see how your employees scam the boss man, how your friend cheats on his wife, how the criminal steals your wallet. Well those are all amateur moves, government's are the professional thieves.

It's a better system than it used to be, as now they enslave us via taxes rather than violence.

But they still taking all they can, and being sure to leave us with the minimum to survive on.

Sad, but true.


concerned799 3 years, 10 months ago

How is a multi decade contract with Shell for LNG a transition to renewable power?

It would appear the Bahamas could be under water from climate change before that contract expired and you could do a new contract for solar power only.


TheMadHatter 3 years, 10 months ago

"Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Mr Bowe said that what is troubling for most is that the government has given no clear indication of when electricity bills will be at an acceptable level."

NO SIR. What is "troubling for most" is that four fires can be set on the power plant and there is no foam extinguisher to put it out and no cameras to video the criminals.

Are there video cameras now in place since the fires? Is there foam retardant in place with trained personnel to operate it since the fire? NO Of course not.

Government can't tell you when the price of electricity will come down because they don't know when the next fire gah break out.


DDK 3 years, 10 months ago

They don't even speak about it any more. It's like the fires never happened! Talk about DEEP cover and zero accountability!


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