Minister urges those who can pay their bills to do so.
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Power and Light will no longer be carrying out disconnections as previously announced, Works Minister Desmond Bannister told Eyewitness News today.
Bannister who has ministerial responsibility for the power company, said: “BPL is not disconnecting anymore. That is a decision from the minister.”
However, the works minister continued to his appeal for consumers to act responsibly.
“People have to be responsible however,” he said.
“No one should take advantage of this. If people can pay they still should pay their bills. If they cannot pay then they should be in contact with BPL but BPL is not going to be disconnecting anymore.”
Bannister noted that large local companies are among BPL’s delinquent customers.
“If those who can pay do not, the government is going to have to take on the social responsibly of paying. That is going to end up your money and my money being used to pay the bills of people who simply refuse to pay.
“Secondly, when this crisis is over the bills aren’t just going to go away. It’s still going to be something for people to deal with.”
BPL had indicated that it would resume disconnections after March 31.
In an interview with Eyewitness News yesterday, BPL Director of Public Relations K. Quincy Parker confirmed that the power company would resume disconnections today.
However many consumers have expressed anger and disappointment at the power company would carry out disconnections at a time when so many Bahamians are out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Last night, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis said the decision “could not have come at a worse time”.
“When massive increases in job losses and applications for social assistance and unemployment insurance benefits are with us,” Davis continued.
“Such a decision is also not in keeping with the spirit of state assistance and subventions to both companies and workers.”
Davis said the order “flies in the face” of the government’s official position on preventative sanitary measures and the current 24-hour curfew imposed on Bahamians.
Pointing to the Grand Bahama Power company, he noted that the same forbearance should apply.
Bannister had previously warned that the already cash strapped utility company’s very existence is being threatened as it has seen a multi-million dollar revenue drop for March.
The fate of BPL’s $580 million bond financing which is seen as critical to the company’s financial health is now up in the air due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the international capital markets.