Categorized | Business, National News

DPM Defends BEC’s Reform Plans

The US’ most recent assessment of state owned enterprises (SOEs) specifically local energy giant, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has again missed the mark, as far as a senior policymaker sees things.

The US State Department 2014 Investment Climate Statement notes that much like national flag carrier Bahamasair, BEC is equally challenged and “is seen by potential local and international investors as an impediment to diversification and development of an alternative energy platform.”

But Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis chalked up the comments to international investors who are “unfamiliar with the legislative regime that governs BEC’s conduct.”

“The legislative regime, as it presently stands, does not contemplate alternative energy and what is required is a reformation of the whole legislative regime, which is part and parcel of the exercise we are now engaged in whereby we are looking at what we do not just with BEC but the whole energy platform. I think it’s a misunderstanding of our regime,” said Mr. Davis, who also has ministerial responsibility for BEC.

The government last year announced plans to spilt BEC into two companies – one would run the transmission, distribution and customer billing side of things while the other would offer power generation.

The number of companies jockeying to make this happen has been shortlisted to five.

“The matter is before Cabinet and they will be meeting with their government advisors who will be taking them though the process once again and hopefully that exercise will take place next week,” Minister Davis told the Bahama Journal.
“After that, the government will continue to deliberate and make a decision. It is a fundamental decision to be made, which will not just impact us now but well into the future and that is why the matter is taking as long as it is.”
But aside from its reform plans, BEC’s financial standing was also picked apart.

The US’ 2014 Investment Climate Statement found that the corporation’s debt has “hampered its ability to independently fund the replacement of its decades old plants and the necessary expansion to meet the needs of the country.”

“These factors combined with the increase in global oil prices have resulted in energy prices in The Bahamas being among the highest in the hemisphere,” the statement read.

A disappointed Prime Minister Perry Christie has said he is satisfied that those who wrote the report for the State Department made “obvious mistakes.”

Since thenthe deputy prime minister has met with US Charge d’Affaires, John Dinklemanto have a “full and frank explanation of the report’s perceived subjective content and unusual tone.”

Mr Dinkleman has acknowledged that the report was “a departure from the traditional format of other similar reports and assured the government that its concerns were duly noted, the report will be further reviewed and the appropriate measures will be taken.”

The government awaits the outcome of these measures.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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