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News Report: Chamber head says BPL hike another blow for struggling businesses | October 5th, 2022

Published by Paige McCartney, The Nassau Guardian, October 5th, 2022

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC) yesterday urged government to consider every available option to provide relief to businesses who will undoubtedly have to pass on cost increases to customers, further elevating already high prices.

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis announced that Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has increased its monthly fuel charge effective October 1.

Davis said that customers who consume more than 800 kWh per month – which constitutes the vast majority of businesses, would see a 4.3 cent increase per kWh on their fuel charge bill.

Chamber President Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson said yesterday this increase is coming at a time when prices are at their highest in more than four decades, and as government considers raising the minimum wage.

“The amendment to the fuel charge will be another blow to businesses already struggling with rising costs due to external pressures, such as inflation, the proposed increase to minimum wage and NIB contributions,” she said.

“Other mitigative measures announced by BPL do not obviate the impending strain that this increase will add to businesses and their consumers.

“The BCCEC invites the government of The Bahamas to consider every option available to it to provide relief to businesses. Notwithstanding the projection by the government that this increase may be a short-term measure, we note that such an increase in the cost of doing business, no matter how short, will result in another cost evaluation for many companies.

“The BCCEC stand ready to engage with BPL and the government of The Bahamas to have discussions on meaningful relief to businesses, which will aid in the challenges that this increase will inevitably cause.”

In late February, BPL issued a statement that the cost of the fuel charge was going to increase on March 1 from 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 13.7 cents per kWh.

But that statement was later recalled and the prime minister promised that his administration would do all it can to prevent an increase in the cost of electricity.

Davis said Bahamians cannot afford to be burdened with more costs.

But while pointing to BPL’s struggling financial state, Minister of Works and Utilities Alfred Sears yesterday said government could no longer delay the increase in fuel charges, which are passed directly to consumers.

The current fuel charge in The Bahamas is 10.5 cents per kWh. As of October 1, it increased to 12.5 cents per kWh for consumers using less than 800 kWh and 14.8 cents for consumers using more than 800 kWh.

It will increase again to 14.5 cents on December 1 for consumers using less than 800 kWh and 19.1 cents for consumers using more than 800 kWh.

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