By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-Some relief in electricity bills is on the horizon for single parent homes and for the elderly with a new initiative announced by the government.
Last week Minister of Energy the Hon. Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd announced a project at the St. Kitts Electricity Company(SKELEC) called a Lifeline Tariff that will provide direct access to facilitate and improve quality of life and standard of living.
“The aim of the project is to provide a lifeline tariff , a reduced tariff for the elderly and single parent households who are customers of SKELEC.”
He explained that it was recognize that existing electricity tariffs is proving rather challenging for the identified groups and is not affordable as they are often the victims of inter-generational poverty.
“The beneficiaries would be the elderly, whose quality of life and standard of living will be enhanced in their golden years. We are making certain that people in our Federation should not be afraid to grow old.
The primary beneficiaries in the single parent households will be the students who will now have access to the resource, thus facilitating the use of modern technology in the learning process and enhancing the development of human capital.”
He indicated that in the coming months more announcement would be made on the initiative.
The Energy Minister also spoke about revaltions involving SKELEC and actions of the last administration revealing that that in 2014 the company was asked to write off all outstanding amounts pertaining to the government portion of the domestic consumer receivables balances.
Liburd revealed that it amounted to $21,290,002 and has adversely affected the earnings of SKELEC.
“While we do acknowledge and understand that government is the sole shareholder of SKELEC, modifications were not made to the amounts owed to the government to reflect that this was done. Such actions, along with the fact that there are uncollectible commercial accounts on the books originating from that period, this does continue to affect the balance sheet performance indicators of the company.”
“He further disclosed that there has been a lack of audited financial statements in the company’s entire existence.
“Currently SKELEC has completed five years of existence and only one year has been audited, but I can report to the country and to the parliament that the current auditor has scheduled the audit of years 2012 to 2013 and 2013 to 2014 to begin in 2017.”
Liburd indicated that SKELEC are in the process of trying to recoup outstanding debts and announced that businesses will no longer be able to defer payment.
“In relation to collections and the debt a number of steps have been put into place to address the collection of the company’s outstanding receivables. This includes the setting up of a collection policy to ensure a consistent and transparent management of our outstanding debts there at SKELEC.
He indicated that among the other initiatives include; “was the suspension of deferred payment arrangements for all government entities, instead it is believed that these entities must be encouraged to seek assistance from their lending agencies to settle the amount outstanding to SKELEC.”