Former minister with responsibility for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), Phenton Neymour, recently accused BEC Chairman Leslie Miller of hypocrisy after he announced a new reconnection initiative similar to the one crafted by the Ingraham adminstration that Miller previously criticized.
Last week Miller announced that the government intends to reconnect the electricity supplies of more than 7,000 delinquent consumers.
“I am very disappointed in Mr. Miller,” Neymour said. “Miller stated that the Free National Movement put BEC in a poor position when we put in place a very similar program.”
Neymour was referring to Miller’s critique of the former administration’s electricity reconnection and payment plan program which was intended to provide relief and generate revenue from delinquent and returning customers.
“He is being hypocritical,” Neymour said. “He orignally criticized the program saying it was not good, and saying it helped people who could have paid.
“But when you are putting a policy in place, it must be a policy for everyone.”
Back in March, Miller said many of the customers who benefitted from the former administration’s initiative were in the “upper income bracket”. He said the move ultimately had a negative impact on BEC’s bottom line.
The former administration’s initiative, which was launched last February, was also branded as an “election ploy” by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) at the time.
But Neymour insisted that the program did not have any impact on BEC’s finances. He said the government gave BEC $4 million at the time to cover any financial implications that would come from the program.
Miller said he wants all households to be reconnected by June 1, adding that delinquent customers will be required to pay a portion of their bill in order to be reconnected.
He gave an example that a customer who owes $2,000 would be reconnected upon paying $400.
A customer with a bill of $3,000 or less will be expected to pay
a “fair amount”, while a customer with a bill of $4,000 must pay 25 percent.
Asked for his views of the new initiative, Neymour said he does not have sufficient details about the plan. However, he said it is an indication that the FNM was on the right track.
And while Neymour said he supports initiatives aimed at assisting struggling families, he said he has a few concerns.
“When we started the program, it was I who announced that there were 5,200 who were disconnected from BEC, “ he said.
“Today he is announcing that the figure exceeds 7,000 which implies that BEC’s position is far worse than what it was under the FNM. It also means that the receivables are much worse than when we were in office.”
Neymour said the high cost of electricity has contributed to the increase in delinquent accounts.
He said if the government really wants to impact the lives of Bahamians it should fulfill its promise to lower the electricity rates.
By Krystel Rolle
Guardian Staff Reporter