COME CLEAN: Opposition calls on government to come clean over BPL fuel charge usage

COME CLEAN: Opposition calls on government to come clean over BPL fuel charge usage

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Opposition called on the government yesterday to “come clean” and explain why, despite the increase in the Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) fuel surcharge over the past year, little of those funds seem to have been allocated to pay down the loan to BPL that was intended to be settled by the spike in the fuel charge.

Opposition Shadow Finance Minister Kwasi Thompson noted that the government had claimed that a portion of the reason for the fuel charge increase was to address fuel arrears. He pointed out that despite collecting substantial sums, the recent Public Debt Statistical Bulletin report indicates that BPL’s indebtedness to the Central Government has remained virtually unchanged since the imposition of the fee hike.

“Bahamians are left to demand: What did BPL do with the funds that were supposed to pay off this loan from the taxpayers? Or if BPL paid it, what did the government do with the funds?” Thompson asked.

“The government has kept this deal secret and advanced some $150 million to BPL for a loan but has not informed the Bahamian people of the interest and terms of this loan or when the funds will be repaid. It is inexcusable that after more than a year, we do not know the details of the loan transaction. Bahamians have struggled to pay the surcharge, so why should we be left to guess and speculate where the money went?”

BPL’s glide path strategy was designed to gradually increase the fuel charge to a peak this summer and then decrease the fuel charge continuously through the end of this month. By March 2024, BPL is expected to have paid off its outstanding fuel debt. This means that as of March 2024, bills are expected only to reflect the actual cost of fuel used in supplying consumers.