Letters to the Editor — The BPL Saga: Same script, similar cast

Letters to the Editor — The BPL Saga: Same script, similar cast


The more things change, the more they remain the same. These were the words that came to mind as the nation woke up to the news that the current PLP administration has either entered into or is contemplating entering into another BPL deal. 

In the midst of the uncertainty and controversy, one thing is certain – all right-thinking Bahamians want affordable and reliable power supply; we all believe that energy sector reform is required, but the question is whether we can trust the current administration to get this done. 

Going down memory lane

On February 3, 2016, the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for  BPL announced a management services agreement between BPL and PowerSecure in Parliament. In touting that agreement as an exciting step that would usher BPL into the next phase of its energy sector transformation, Davis lamented the high electricity bills, inefficiency and indebtedness of the utility company. The current PM had promised a “new, vibrant, efficient and lower cost utility provider”. He further stated that the government was satisfied that PowerSecure had the technical and financial capacity required to manage BPL effectively.

PowerSecure signed a five-year deal reportedly worth $25 million, albeit the details were not made public by the PLP government at that time. The deal gave PowerSecure full management and operational control of BPL and responsibility for all electricity generation, transmission, distribution, procurement and customer service. Under PowerSecure, the hot summers were made unbearable by constant power outages and load shedding; not to mention the high cost of electricity consumers had to bear for the unreliable power supply. There were reports of $2 million stolen in a vendor fraud case between December 2016 and May 2017 while PowerSecure received $1.1 million performance bonus under the PLP administration. The last FNM administration canceled the PowerSecure Agreement to the delight of Bahamians.

Same script, similar cast

Just like he did during the last PLP administration, the PM seems to have assumed responsibility for BPL and has become the chief spokesperson for the entity. In the absence of information, Bahamians are left to conclude that we are watching the same script from 2016 with the same cast led by Davis as the lead actor.

The PLP-appointed Executive Chairman of BPL had scathing remarks on the deal struck by Davis in 2016. He had been quoted as saying that there was no tangible evidence of improvements at BPL following the engagement of PowerSecure. The former Chairman opined that PowerSecure had done nothing to improve the state of electricity in The Bahamas. In essence, the dream sold by Davis in 2016 was just a dream that never materialized. In 2024, it appears that the PM has dusted off his old script and employed a few new cast members for an encore.

PLP failures at BPL 

The multiple failures of the PLP in relation to BPL are chronicled on the pages of our history. However, it was the revelation by the last FNM administration that an elite “do not disconnect” list for parliamentarians and top civil servants existed under the last PLP administration that annoyed the masses whose power was being disconnected for owing a couple hundred dollars. According to media reports, four PLP Cabinet Ministers had owed over $20,000, and Davis had claimed ignorance in relation to the list despite being the Minister responsible for BPL. Bahamians hailed the abolishment of that list by the Minnis administration. 

Then, there were findings from the forensic investigation that highlighted cronyism, nepotism, political interference, irregular contract awards, and flawed tender process under the last PLP administration. In recent times, the controversies surrounding the fuel hedge program, BPL loan and resulting astronomical electricity bills have left Bahamians disappointed in the current administration. There is no doubt that mismanagement, political interference, corruption, and lack of political will have placed BPL in its current perilous position.

Giving up on Bahamians

The Davis administration has spoken loud and clear with its decision to place the fate of BPL in the hands of a foreign entity. While the best solution for BPL should be the priority, this goes against the principles upon which the PLP was built and the vision of its founders. Indeed, the late Sir Lynden Oscar Pindling and A. D. Hanna, architects of the Bahamianization Policy, would have been disappointed by the actions of a PLP government under the current leadership.

In cutting a deal with a foreign entity to facilitate the provision of such an essential service as electricity, the government has effectively thrown in the towel and shown how much the PLP believes in Bahamians. The current administration is showing that it has given up on Bahamians and has no faith in our ability as a nation to manage our own affairs. The clear message is that Bahamians need not apply for the BPL deal. It is indeed a sad new day.

Bahamians left in the dark

The Davis administration has rightfully earned a bad reputation for not adhering to laws and having an aversion to transparency or accountability of any form. Bahamians are forced to ask why their government likes to operate in the dark and keep Bahamians in the dark on matters of national importance. 

In this instance, it took some agitation from union leaders and prompting of the same media that has been demonized by the PM for the government to come clean on its plans for BPL. If the government had nothing to hide, why does the current administration keep shooting itself in the proverbial foot? The secrecy around the government’s actions only leaves Bahamians to conclude that they are not acting in their best interest.

Unions draw the line

The achievements of the labor movement in The Bahamas have been well documented. The late Sir Randol Fawkes and his contemporaries played a major role in the shaping of our nation as they stood on principle while fighting for Bahamian workers. Workers across our archipelago owe a debt of gratitude to the activists and union leaders who have made sacrifices to ensure that we enjoy the benefits we do today.

Political leaders have sought to use the labor movement in their quest for power to the detriment of workers by contaminating or compromising the purpose of the trade unions. In the lead up to the 2021 general election, the PLP entered into an MOU with trade unions in a bid to get their support and endorsement for the upcoming election. It is therefore not surprising that union leaders feel betrayed and disrespected by the BPL deal. They have drawn the line and rejected deal. However, the question is whether they will hold firm or get swing again. Has the union been weakened by their alignment with the PLP prior to the last general election? Have union leaders been so compromised that they are conflicted in the fight for their members? Has the union lost its voice? Is the solidarity forever?

PowerSecure 2.0?

It is easy to see why this new deal gives Bahamians the PowerSecure vibes as the main actor in that debacle is involved again. PM Davis seems to have returned for an encore having spearheaded the disaster that was PowerSecure. The level of secrecy in which the 2024 deal is shrouded reminds us that Davis had refused to make public the $900,000 business plan paid for by taxpayers in 2016.

Bahamians are hopeful that one day, we will elect a government that is truly committed to transparency and accountability – a government that puts the people’s interest above special interests and their own personal ambitions. In the meantime, the people will only continue to speculate and pray that the Davis administration will deem us worthy of knowing the details of the their recent deal.

Written By: Arinthia S. Komolafe