By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Philip Davis and FNM leader Michael Pintard continued their war of words in the House of Assembly yesterday over the controversial Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) fuel charge increase, with the opposition leader once again laying the blame for burdening Bahamians with additional costs at the government’s feet.
The two locked horns after Prime Minister Davis claimed that his administration had met BPL “in a mess” after assuming office in 2021.
Mr Davis was contributing to debate on the 2022 Fiscal Strategy Report when he responded to rhetoric surrounding BPL’s fuel hedging initiative.
“The BPL that we met in September 2021 was a complete mess. A $246m balloon payment was due in February of 2022 and there’s no plan in place to help to pay for it. They were in significant arrears with all their vendors,” the Prime Minister charged.
“They have failed to cop up even a semblance of a plan to move BPL to sustainability. They kept talking about the rate reduction bonds but the market wasn’t having it and they had no other ideas.”
“BPL record-keeping was so poor that they could not even access reimbursement from the IDB on Dorian expenditures. Every dollar they spent, they could’ve been reimbursed but they didn’t have the receipts to do so.”
The FNM has repeatedly accused the Davis administration with burdening Bahamians with extra bills due to their “mishandling” of BPL’s fuel hedging strategy.
The opposition is also of the opinion that Bahamian households and businesses would not have had to bear a 163 percent increase in BPL’s fuel charge if the government had not decide to scrap the fuel hedging strategy left in place by its predecessor.
“There’s been much noise about hedging. There were multiple hedges in place but none of the hedges in place was stopped or cancelled. None, I repeat, was stopped or cancelled,” Mr Davis continued.
“There was a request to renew one of the hedges that was expiring, and our government declined to do that. Instead of choosing new payments, we decided to focus on making progress on the very significant arrears that they left in place.”
“You know who else declined to renew the hedge - the previous government. They had the same opportunity in the June 2021 – but they declined. Listen, let’s remember what a hedge is ya know. It ain’t nothing but a bet. It’s a gamble. You lock in a price on fuel and you gain some.”
However, during his contribution, Mr Pintard hit back and accused Mr Davis of seeking to make an excuse for what he termed to be an “egregious” act carried out by Works and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears.
Mr Pintard has previously accused Mr Sears of “misleading Parliament” after he admitted that the Davis administration rejected proposals and recommendations “that had the potential to save the Bahamian people $100m”.
“The reality is I challenge members opposite to lay on the table any Cabinet paper which was prepared for a June presentation of a hedge programme to the Cabinet of The Bahamas,” he said.
“It was never intended to do so. In fact, it was in September that it was expected that the hedge programme, the next round of it would be presented to cabinet for an October execution.”
“It’s misleading, Madame Speaker.”
Mr Pintard then pointed to a $150m bill owed by BPL and said “this administration didn’t think it important enough to come to the public and explain the $150m liability until now”.
The cost branded “a significant unbudgeted liability” for the government, was revealed in the just-released Fiscal Strategy Report, which said BPL’s arrears must be paid off to prevent electricity supplies being interrupted.
However, Mr Davis rose on a point of order and called on the FNM leader to go to the report for further understanding of the $150m liability, which he referred to as “legacy debt”.
He also said the government was paying $10m per month to settle BPL’s arrears.
“It speaks of the government undertaking the pay of legacy debt of an arrears for the fuel that is owed to the sole supplier. That’s what that $150m deal with. Nothing to do with the hedge. It has to do with a debt that has been failed to be paid by the FNM,” he also said.
Mr Davis also called on Mr Pintard to be honest when making such statements.
To which Mr Pintard responded: “You cannot lecture me on honesty. You cannot.”
moncurcool 1 month, 1 week ago
And again Davis is caught lying to Parliament, just like BAMSI, now BPL, and nothing happens. This man lacks integrity.
Dawes 1 month, 1 week ago
They both are responsible, as well as the previous Governments from around 2000 when BPL first started to make a loss. And the Governments from before that when BPL was unable to and still is unable to generate enough power on a consistent basis for people to not be without power weekly.
KapunkleUp 1 month, 1 week ago
Who is to blame for BPL? We are to blame because we keep reelecting the same circus of monkeys to run our lives.
DiverBelow 1 month, 1 week ago
Over the years, various government administration's have refused to address the ever growing weed vine that is BPL. If you don't trim & stop feeding, it becomes uncontrollable. Now that it has taken over the whole house, no wonder it is choking the Bahamian People & Industry. Two PLP & one FNM governments have received independent positive proposals to remedy this situation, All Refusing to Release the Nursing Tit of Shell...WHY? ...Got Shares?
John 1 month, 1 week ago
When the enemy comes to take control of a country, they take ( and/or make it to fail). The country’s power supply, its communications systems ( both BTC and Aliv are foreign owned). The media, the water and food supply. Basically they fail the state. Despite being rich and prosperous The BaHAMAS is failing its citizenry on many fronts. The devil is in the mix.
birdiestrachan 1 month, 1 week ago
It is amazing how much love Mr Pintard and his FNM party have for the poor there was zero when they Increased VAT 60 %
No VAT on flour and cooking oils mustard And mayonnaise were not helpful to the poor it was good for hotels bakers and fast food , God forbid that Pintard should ever become PM but the doc
. see to it that it will not happen Mr Pintard In True FNM fashion is throwing ro koçks at the police
Sickened 1 month, 1 week ago
I'm just happy that you helped to vote in an absolutely perfect party. Arguably the best cabinet the country has ever had. We've never had it so good.
birdiestrachan 1 month, 1 week ago
Meant rocks Mr Pintard is working his mouth hard to keep his job has he ever had a job before . ....? What are his qualifications
Flyingfish 1 month, 1 week ago
Both equally as incompetent as each other like 2 ugly heads of the same political beast. Perhaps you could even say they are 2 folds of the same party/elite clique only with an elaborate paint scheme & their share of swindled followers.
ColumbusPillow 1 month, 1 week ago
The PM came back from the extremist environmentalist COP convention in Scotland to announce that there would be NO OIL DRILLING IN BAHAMAS.WATERS. Oh well, Bahamians will just have to live with it at least until the next election or walk more..
TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago
Before the premiership can gets to BPL, however, his premiership will remain under intense scrutiny to be seriously be seen as addressing' the issue that has been hovering over his administration since month four ----- much difficulties in stickin' to campaign promises ---- to brung' about a 'forward change' for 'all' the popoulaces', --- That must appeal to the obligated to find the critical instruments ---- necessary to ensure not to leave behind the most pressing' issues of the 'undocumented' ---- for yet another generation, ---- Yes?
ted4bz 1 month, 1 week ago
How many customers BPL has? What is the average charge per customer? How many active employees BPL has? What is the average salary per employee? What is BPL fuel cost to power their generators, vehicles, or buildings, etc.? Now how much is wasted, or squandered? If we know these figures, we will know why BPL has this huge debt they are about to further burden us with. I can assure you BPL is collecting a lot more than it needs to function properly. It is becoming increasingly apparent that governments are here to restrict us with nothing but burden.
Sickened 1 month, 1 week ago
If BPL would close it's legs and stop Shell from treating it like a $2 crack whore then we could begin to move the country forward. Do they make chastity belts for government corporations?
SP 1 month, 1 week ago
PM Davis is throwing this, death threats, and anything else including the kitchen sink against the wall in a desperate attempt to change the narrative away from the Haitian invasion!
Your feeble efforts cannot work Brave because our country is so inundated with Haitians they are the first people Bahamians run into every day and all damn day!
We see and hear more Haitians than Bahamians in most of our country.
Pindling must have seen this coming prompting him to say "if Bahamians are not willing to fight for their country, they don't deserve to have it."
Well, it is now the time to fight!
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