Online petition launched against 'exorbitant' electricity bills

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Online petition launched against 'exorbitant' electricity bills

Saturday, June 06, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica Public Service (JPS) customers have launched a petition to hold the company accountable for "exorbitant" electricity bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creator of the petition, Petra Hines said that since the onset of the pandemic “the world has seen subzero oil and fuel prices, which are neither reflected at the pumps nor on our utility bills (JPS especially)”.

The petition has so far exceededit's previous target of 5,000 signatures, which has now been moved to 7,500.

Hines noted that Minister of Science, Energy and Technology,FayvalWilliams has declared that JPS has the option ofutilisingan alternative fuel blend, which costs less than the fuel currently being used.

However, the petitioner contended that: "The company enjoys market monopoly and therefore has opted to keep Jamaicans impoverished with its exorbitant and cruel business ethics."

One member of the public who signed the petition said it was because “my bill has become too high without additional use”.

Another noted that, “JPS has been doing this for years and it needs to stop!!! My bill has more than doubled and yet the very low oil and petroleum price the rest of the world is experiencing some how does not apply to us they are taking advantage of us!!!Pluswe need Government officials speaking up for the average person being oppressed by this abuse!!!”

Several other people have expressed similar sentiments, stating that theirbillsare questionable.

JPS last month attributed the rise in electricity cost to the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar.

The utility company said that for the month of May, customers would have seen an increase of 7.43 per cent in electricity bills as the dollar weakened against its US counterpart.

The company explained that while a base rate of $128 to US$1 has been set by the Office of Utilities (OUR), changes in the value of the dollar could result in the need for the rate applied to bills to be adjusted.

Opposition spokesman on Energy PhillipPaulwellappealed to the Government to remove the hedge fund component of the Special Consumption Tax (SCT) on fuel and the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on electricity bills which he said would also have contributed to the raise in electricity cost.

Paulwellsaid the removal of the hedge fund component would ensure a reduction of fuel prices at the pump and the lowering of light bills.

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