EDITORIAL: Still in the dark on new BPL deal

IF Bahamians were hopeful of more details being revealed about the proposed deal involving the future of Bahamas Power and Light when they tuned into the mid-year Budget debate yesterday, they were soon disappointed.

The Prime Minister gave no further clues about how the reform of BPL would look, and nor did Energy and Transport Minister JoBeth Coleby-Davis.

Mrs Coleby-Davis did confirm the depth of BPL’s financial challenges, with a billion dollars worth of financial commitment needed. The business is more than $500m in debt, and she says $500 more will be needed over the next five years to upgrade the infrastructure.

It will not come as a surprise to any Bahamian that BPL has antiquated equipment, but the extent of the financial challenges will lead to plenty of frustration from customers who have been paying heavily in the past year. The pit BPL is in seems to only get deeper.

Employee pensions are also apparently underfunded by $120m, while at board level, two members of the board have resigned for unexplained reasons.

Mrs Coleby-Davis said that there will be no layoffs, though the suggestion that there will be “new and exciting” roles for staff will be met with no little cynicism.

FNM leader Michael Pintard meanwhile had more than a fair point when he said that the administration was lacking in transparency over the suggested deals.

He said of the new energy plan, “…even if it was transformative, it certainly isn’t transparent because we do not know what the plan is.”

He added: “In fact, the minister supports this point that the public does not know, the workers do not know, the stakeholders do not know. Energy providers who would have loved to compete for what they are giving out specifically to some would like to know.”

And there’s the rub.

Here we are, only a few months away from whatever the deal is and we cannot even use the right terminology to describe the deal as nothing has been let out of the bag.

Is it a takeover? Is it a management agreement? Will staff be sub-contracted out to these management groups? Will there be one deal? Two? Three?

Mrs Coleby-Davis said that the Davis administration will not privatise the utility company, so what will it be doing?

And is this a sign that the government does not believe that it can find the right Bahamians to run a Bahamian energy provider and has to farm it out to the private sector? Is this tantamount to an admission that the government can’t get it done on its own?

In the end, we spent a good amount of time in Parliament hearing very little, when frankly Bahamians deserved to hear a bit more. Not least of all those Bahami-ans who work at BPL who want to hear what their future is going to look like.

Prime Minister Philip Davis says that the reason for no further information is because talks are ongoing – but should the plan not be laid out so all interested potential partners can express an interest in the proposals? Who are the talks with if not with all possible suitors?

There is a great deal more we need to know about the BPL deal. Parliament did not give those answers yesterday, but those answers ought to come. And soon.


sheeprunner12 2 months, 1 week ago

PowerSecure 2.0 is going to be even more burdensome on Bahamians ........ This time,bit won't be just a study & a plan, it will be a wholesale takeover.

But, what will the Pikes & Snakes be getting at our collective expense????


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