Miller Issues BEC Threat To Hotels

Business

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller warned major hotels and large commercial consumers to either pay up or face disconnection, as the corporation clamps down on arrears.
Miller said BEC is owed millions of dollars and the corporation cannot allow major hotels and other companies to remain delinquent.
One company reportedly owes BEC $10 million.
Miller said BEC does not get much out of going after ordinary Bahamians who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Now the big fellows out west, who can pay, we are going after them, and we will go after them because they can afford to pay,” Miller said during a press conference at BEC’s headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.
“You know who pays their bill? When you go to any hotel in this country, you will see on your bill that fuel fee. In other words, the guests are paying most of that bill and the hotel is pocketing the damn money.
“…So e are to deal with them over the summer,” Miller continued. “We will turn them off.”
Though he did not say which hotels, Miller noted that they are not the only big companies that owe considerable amounts of money.
According to Miller, a road contractor owes in excess of $3 million, and BEC was unable to collect a penny on the millions of dollars owed by a former leading poultry firm, which still reportedly owes $8.5 million.
He said a hotel on Paradise Island, which closed several years ago, also left a multi-million dollar bill.
“When they closed down years ago, they left BEC high and dry for over $3 million, but yet you’re putting pressure on the small man in this country who carried the burden,” he said.
Miller said the hotels faced with disconnection may use the Bahamians they employ as leverage by threatening to lay some of them off.
But he said there must be a shift away from that type of thinking, and all customers must come to under that what is owed must be paid.
“Now when we threaten to turn them off you know they say? ‘We will send 100 people home’. But why don’t you try to send the 100 people home and see what the end result is?” Miller said.
“You are not doing us any favors. You are in this country to make money. We have to get this concept out of our heads that the ‘man’ came here to do us a favor.
“Nobody came here to do us any favors. They come here to run profitable business. If they couldn’t make money in the Bahamas they would go elsewhere.
“… If they go anywhere they have to hire people and pay their utility bills.”
The executive chairman has pledged to work to reduce consumers’ electricity bills by up to 10 percent this summer.
BEC recently launched another electricity assistance program, which Miller said has been going well though he could not provide figures.
He said many customers who signed onto the former administration’s program last year, and fell back into delinquency, are signing onto the new program.
It is estimated that around 6,000 households throughout New Providence and the Family Islands are off without power.
BEC hopes its newly restructured payment plan, coupled with reduced energy cost and payment incentives will allow the majority of those households to be reconnected, Miller said.
He also announced that the corporation has managed to run its engines at the Clifton Pier Power Station at full capacity.
This is expected to positively impact energy costs, load shedding and blackouts significantly.
By Royston Jones, Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter

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