Monday, 28 May 2012 01:39
PM Douglas says consumers will be protected in pursuit of renewable energyWritten by CUOPM
Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas speaking at the 80th Annual Conference of the Party on Sunday. (Willett's photo)
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, (CUOPM) – Persons who have had their electricity services disconnected as a result of significant arrears are to be reconnected.
This was disclosed on Sunday by St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, who told delegates to his governing St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party 80th Annual Conference during a sitting on the recent National Assembly, Minister of Energy, the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Department are now working, as a matter of priority to present to the Cabinet a number of initiatives to cut and reduce tariffs on imports that would reduce home and business reliance on fossil fuels.
“There must be a fair way of dealing with the existing arrears so that over the next few years those arrears will disappear and will no longer be a burden,” said Dr. Douglas who disclosed that there was a joint meeting between the Ministry of Finance and the Board and Management of the St. Kitts Electricity Company.
Prime Minister Douglas said his Government early in the new term made a commitment to corporatising the Electricity Department and provide a reliable supply of electricity to homes, offices and businesses.
“We are pleased that each month the number of outages has been decreasing significantly. Moreover, we are given adequate notice of even the few outages that we now experience. We are satisfied therefore that our corporatisation initiative in respect of the electricity services is working,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He said his Government remain concern about the high rate of electricity.
“We understand that the price of oil has been moving erratically and has put upward pressure on the cost of generating electricity. But I must put SKELEC on notice. For us, corporatization is not simply about changing the form of the enterprise. SKELEC is a company registered under the Companies Act, and although its shares are owned by the Government, we do not intend to let it operate like a Government Department,” said Dr. Douglas.
He pointed out that the electricity charge represents a large portion of the budget of households and businesses and SKELEC intends to realize increased efficiencies that must be passed on to consumers.
“My Government will be vigilant in protecting the interest of our consumers. As a corporate entity, SKELEC has a duly empowered Board of Directors and a professional management team so we do not intend to interfere in the management and operations of that enterprise but we reserve the right, as a Labour Government, to take whatever action we deem necessary to protect the interest of consumers,” said Dr. Douglas.
He pointed out that the price of oil on the world market that determines the cost of energy in those countries that rely on fossil fuels. “No Government, no President, no Prime Minister has the power to reduce the world price of oil. Not President Obama of the United States, not Prime Minister Cameron of England, not President Zuma of South Africa, not President Putin of Russia, not Prime Minister Noda of Japan, and certainly not Prime Minister Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Dr. Douglas.
He said what his Government has the power to do, however, have been doing, and will continue to do, is find ways to escape the fossil fuel dependency in which nations across the globe are now trapped.
“We know that families need relief in order to manage their finances – ours do too! We know that businesses wish to keep operating costs down, we have relatives and friends who are directly affected. Most of all, we know, better than any, just how much our country needs a lighter energy load than it now bears,” said Dr. Douglas.
He said spiralling energy costs may be a global problem, but Government is not waiting for the world to find a solution.
“We are moving ahead to identify practical, viable, workable ways out, and we are pursuing them aggressively,” said Prime Minister Douglas, who commended those private individuals and companies that have been switching from oil-based to renewable energy sources.
He disclosed that to further encourage those interested in renewable energy, the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Department are now working, as a matter of priority to present to the Cabinet, a number of initiatives to cut and reduce tariffs on imports that would reduce home and business reliance on fossil fuels.
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