By Sloan Smith of Eyewitness News
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper last night called the government’s electricity rate reduction bond an “affront” to the Bahamian people, warning it could drive the country into another recession.
Cooper, who was addressing party supporters at a Centreville Branch meeting, castigated the Minnis administration over its handling of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL).
The electricity provider continues to struggle with ongoing blackouts and load shedding due to its issues with generation and transmission among other challenges.
The government last week tabled an Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill (ERRB), 2019, which will allow BPL to restructure more than $320 million in inherited debt, and secure more than $350 million in new funding to address longstanding issues.
The legislation makes clear that BPL’s customer base will be relied upon to service the bond issue.
It has not been revealed how much that charge would be.
“Hubert Minnis and the FNM have zero respect for the Bahamian people,” Cooper told a crowd of PLPs.
“They don’t care about the Bahamian people at all.
“How do you put this BPL tax on people and look them in the face and tell them you have their best interests at heart?
“The minister of finance says the new BPL tax will be palatable to Bahamians.
Cooper said: “First, what Bahamians does he know who feel good about paying more money to BPL?…Who is he talking to? No one wants to pay BPL a red cent more. Not after a summer of blackouts. Not if you can’t move to more renewable, sustainable energy solutions.”
“This is really shameful stuff,” he said.
“I don’t like this new BPL tax. It is an affront to Bahamians and could threaten to drive us into another recession. How could they possibly think higher bills makes any sense? I guess it’s the people time.”
On Tuesday, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest told reporters that it was ‘no secret’ the public will need to pitch in to turnaround the ‘very serious financial mess’ Bahamas Power & Light BPL finds itself in.