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Private sector gives Gov't 30 days to outline energy direction

Thursday, February 07, 2013    

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THE country's leading private sector groups have given the Portia Simpson Miller-led Government 30 days within which to communicate "a definite direction" in reducing Jamaica's energy cost by 2015.

"The Government was elected by Jamaicans to make tough decisions. They need to act swiftly, as the constant delays are costing the country," said a statement issued jointly by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and the Jamaica Manufacturers Association yesterday.

"While the Government and the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) continue to have discourse in the media, the competitiveness of the productive sectors continues to be eroded and our economy stagnates. Jamaicans are overburdened by high electricity costs, which is not only hurting their pockets, but thrusting them further into poverty and the time has come for a clear course of action with hard timelines to be disclosed to the country," the release added.

The private sector groups were making reference to the OUR's announcement Tuesday that it had cancelled the 360-megawatt request for proposal process that would have facilitated the construction of a power plant by the Jamaica Public Service to use liquefied natural gas as its main fuel source.

The regulatory body said that the decision was made after JPS missed another deadline last Friday and requested a 30-day extension.

"We all know that we cannot continue with the status quo and therefore we must diversify as a matter of urgency as, quite frankly, we cannot afford not to. Our dependency on oil, combined with a continuous cycle of discussions, continues to cripple the economy. This back and forth with regulators, policymakers and implementers has to stop. The minister of energy and mining along with the OUR need to lay out a clear road map that will provide the country with a level of confidence as to how we are going to achieve the expectations previously communicated on electricity costs," the released stated.

The groups concluded that they were expecting a decisive statement from the Government on the matter within 30 days.

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