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Pintard calls on govt to ‘come clean’ on BPL fuel issue

A day after Minister of Works Alfred Sears said Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) will soon make an announcement relating to its fuel charge, Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Michael Pintard yesterday called on the Davis administration to “come clean” on what it is doing with BPL and who is picking up the bill for the fuel charges.

“According to statements by the prime minister on social media, the government is spending millions of dollars subsidizing BPL fuel,” Pintard said in a statement.

“Yet absolutely no details have been released to the Bahamian people on how much money is being spent and where in the government’s budget it is being accounted for. We do not know how much.

“We also do not know how long. We do know that the government dragged its feet going back to last October by not keeping current the hedging arrangements left in place by the FNM that had delivered low fuel charges to BPL even as the global price of oil increased.

“We do know that the government has refused to explain how the rising fuel prices have impacted BPL operations. We do know from the prime minister that the taxpayers are subsidizing BPL for fuel prices although it is clear that no such accommodation exists within the current BPL regulatory framework in respect of fuel surcharge.”

In February, BPL issued a statement announcing that customers’ fuel charges will increase from 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 13.7 cents per kWh.

It said customers whose average monthly consumption is 250 kWh will see a rise of about $8 in their monthly light bill and customers whose consumption is 600 kWh will see an increase of about $19 per month.

The statement was later recalled and Prime Minister Philip Davis promised that his administration would address the issue.

“Lord knows that our people could least afford to have more taxes or more costs visited upon their backs,” Davis said.

“My government will do all in its power to see how we can avert raising the cost of electricity on our people.”

BPL CEO Shevonn Cambridge predicted in June the company will increase its fuel charge in “the next month or two”.

“The process or the procedure for adjusting it is prescribed in the fuel charge [regulation] …” Cambridge said.

“So, I foresee within the month or two that that adjustment will have to be made.”

Pintard yesterday accused the current administration of refusing to address “real issues”.

“They are not forthcoming with how they spend the people’s money,” he charged.

“They refuse to shape and implement coherent and sustained policy measures, instead choosing to meander from photo op to photo op while critical matters go unaddressed.”

Pintard questioned whether there will be an increase in the BPL fuel charge, by how much and when it will take effect.

Sears told The Nassau Guardian on Monday he needed to speak with BPL officials regarding the statement that will be made and committed to releasing it “in short order”.

He would not confirm or deny an imminent increase in the fuel charge.