By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Opposition’s finance spokesman yesterday argued that raising the value-added tax (VAT) exemption ceiling for electricity bills from $200 to $300 will do little to help struggling Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) consumers.
Chester Cooper, the Exuma and Ragged Island MP, instead warned that small and medium-sized enterprises would be “driven out of business” due to high energy costs. He told Parliament that the exemption increase would be of no help to the more than 5,0000 consumers across the country whose electricity supply is currently disconnected.
“The bills at BPL will drive many small and medium-sized businesses out of business. What are you doing to lower the cost of electricity for businesses? These are serious time in this country,” said Mr Cooper.
He expressed concern over BPL’s fuel charge, arguing that the utility needs “better oversight, and that should fall under URCA. There is no point in having URCA if it cannot properly regulate the utilities.”
Mr Cooper suggested that BPL’s fuel price be published, along with how much of that fuel is used in a particular month and the cost to consumers.
He also raised concerns over the handling of the fires at BPL’s Clifton plant, saying: “What about the insurance? Has BPL considered whether there is a possible claim under the Business Disruption Coverage which I presume they carry?”
The Exuma MP called for a short and medium-term renewable energy strategy, and also questioned whether the Government has considered zero-rating electricity for VAT purposes.