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Editorial: Bpl Is Walking A Fine Line With New Charge

Who’s going to pay to fix the long history of mismanagement of electricity in The Bahamas? Here’s a clue – your bills are going to have an extra charge on them.

For months, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has been talking about refinancing its debts – well, the detail of that was revealed a little more yesterday.

The company is looking to rearrange its old debts – and borrow new money on top. The total comes to $650m in refinancing – swapping new debt for old. The new money is a whopping extra $350m to invest in generation and the distribution network. There was little detail on that yesterday – with Minister of Works Desmond Bannister promising to reveal details during the debate on the legislation in Parliament that goes with this reinvestment plan.

But the kicker is that your bill will have an extra charge on it – the rate reduction bond fee - with BPL essentially securing its long-term future with our payments.

It is fair to say that BPL has long used up the patience of the Bahamian public. This year has been a nightmare of power outage after power outage in the wake of damaging fires – the reports for which were at last tabled in Parliament today with operator error to blame – and the inevitability of old machinery having failures, for which the company should have been better prepared.

The company offered two carrots to keep customers going – first, that the new Wartsila engines would come online and take care of the power shortages, and second, that the Shell LNG plant would be ready by 2021 and bring with it reduced fuel and other costs.

In short, we’ve been promised stable power supply and at a lower price – and people are ready to hold BPL to account if it fails to deliver.

More than that, they need to see a substantial saving in power costs, not just a token reduction – so the idea that an extra charge is being thrown on top of their bill to pay for BPL nearly doubling its debt is going to infuriate people across the country.

The savings had better be significant – a cut of two or three percent isn’t going to be enough, people are going to want a ten to 20 percent reduction if BPL’s promise is going to be of substance.

BPL chairman Dr Donovan Moxey described the old debt as an “anchor around our necks”. We’re swapping it for a bigger anchor but – BPL hopes – a better structure for paying it.

Dr Moxey also says the legislation will lead to lower costs and reliable power, and that BPL intends “that no Bahamian family ever has to deal with that type of crisis again”.

People are going to need a little more than intent – they’re going to want to know exactly how much that extra charge is going to be, how long it’s going to be necessary, and how soon they’re going to see reduced costs. If bills go up before they go down, that trust that BPL has lost from the public is going to turn into full-blown anger.

So skip the careful language of yesterday’s announcement and give us some straight answers. Map out exactly what people can expect and when they will see changes for the better.

We’ve been beyond patient with BPL, it’s time for the company to go the extra mile to make it up to the nation.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Speaking of digging deeper into pockets, it’s time for Lanisha Rolle to pay up.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday gave her a double rebuke – for her dealings with the Junkanoo groups and for using government funds to put her face on a shiny pin to hand out to young people at a Youth Parliament event.

The misfiring minister now has to pay $582 – oh, and 40 cents.

There were not one but two statements explaining the Rolle pin – one on a Facebook page associated with Mrs Rolle, another from the ministry. Neither one mustered the word “sorry”.

The minister is already on her second ministry after problems with her performance at Social Services. Perhaps it’s time for a little humility in the wake of such apparent vanity – see if you can muster that apology, Mrs Rolle.

Oh and next time you host an event for young people, remember this: It’s about them, not you.

Comments

Porcupine 1 month ago

Even the editor seems to be desensitized with what is going on with BPL and the country. Were they the one writing the checks for their newspaper's power bill, or struggling to make it on minimum wage and keep the lights on so their kids can do their homework, perhaps there would be a bit more emotion in the outrageous treatment of their fellow citizens. Every failure this country has endured has been placed on the backs of the poorest of our citizens. The gross mismanagement, the theft, the corruption, all of it paid for by average working Bahamians. Those at the top, the few, are either immune to it, are the ones on the take, or they simply ignore it because they make enough not to feel the pinch. The very high cost of living in The Bahamas has little to do with the fact that we are less than 100 miles from the US. It has to do with the fact that we lack the competence, honesty and Christian values needed to be decent humans. Our continued excuses in the face of these complete and utter historical failures to be decent people is always followed by some trite utterance to a little understood god. The daily newspapers highlight daily the complete collapse of decency. The lack of pride, the lack of honesty, the lack of concern for our neighbor. Presently, it seems rather clear that there should be a complete cleaning house of anyone in management in this country. Each political party, and politicians as a whole have failed their people. Every major public trust sector has failed to manage their department to the benefit of the Bahamian people. Honestly, it seems to me that the best thing we could do for the Bahamian people would be to hire all foreigners to run our country. Is it not more than apparent that we are unable to do this ourselves? Is this an outrageous comment? More outrageous than the realities we are faced with each and every day, just trying to make a living in this country?

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The_Oracle 1 month ago

"In short, we’ve been promised stable power supply and at a lower price – and people are ready to hold BPL to account if it fails to deliver." I don't agree, as a people we don't seem to have the will to hold anyone accountable, least of all political or civil service and essential service leadership. I remember the Water and sewage debacles of the 70's and 80's. Rusty water if you got any at all. The PVC Pipe and contracts scandal. We are so used to the sloth and avarice in Government we don't even use words like Scandal anymore. As long as we expect corruption and incompetence, we will accept corruption and incompetence.

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proudloudandfnm 1 month ago

Next election the PLP will sell 100 to 200 jobs at BPL for votes.

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concerned799 1 month ago

If this is true, is privitization not the only answer?

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sealice 1 month ago

she must pay alot to be an FNM for them to keep this clearly stupid stupid woman around.....

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concerned799 1 month ago

Having shown that the people will in fact do endless bailouts why wouldn't the broader population be saddled with further bailouts so a few can benefit today? What incentive is there that this would not occur?

The only solution, and the one not taken, would be to privitize it today as the only 100% solution to this mess. I remember posting years ago the whole "PowerSecure" management arpproach would never, ever work! BPL must be sold outright!

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks, 5 days ago

A class action lawsuit needs to be taken out against BPL on behalf of its customers.

Where in the Constitution or BPL MOU where it says that a private company can tax the citizens of The Bahamas for its fiscal mismanagement?

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