JAMAICA | Opposition Senator wants JPS to forego a rate increase at this time

JAMAICA | Opposition Senator wants JPS to forego a rate increase at this time

MONTEGO BAY, June 27, 2021 - The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), is being asked to forgo its request for a rate increase at this time, in light of the fact that all productive sectors of the economy have had to bear the devastation occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Senator Janice Allen told her colleagues in the Senate, as she delivered the opening State of the Nation Address on behalf of the Opposition on Friday, “how can it be fair for the JPS in this time, and  under these circumstances to ask for an increase?  The fact is, everyone has had to make sacrifices coming out of the pandemic.  The teachers, tourism workers, craft traders, JUTA and JACAL drivers, small and large businesses...many of whom have lost their regular incomes.  Wouldn’t it be fair for JPS to forego a rate increase at this time? And make the sacrifice like everyone else?”

The Opposition Senator questioned how is it fair for the JPS to persist with charging a Demand charge on their bills to commercial customers, particularly hotels?  How Come JPS - How come?

Speaking under the theme of “Demanding a Fair and BalancedNation for All Jamaicans,  Senator Allen pointed out that “hotels discount to stay alive while costs continue to rise.  At some point the burden is simply too great.”

She explained that  “The demand charge is an average of your highest usage, which is applied to your account over a period of six months.  Can you imagine, a hotel that ran almost full in February 2020 and suddenly closed their doors in March or April due to the Pandemic, having to pay a demand charge equal to that of February for six months, even when they were closed or running at almost no occupancy at all?  That is utterly unfair!’

The Opposition Spokesperson on Tourism, for its policy in relation to the small properties and players in the industry, noting that “When we talk about ensuring Fair and Balanced society, we must speak of financing.   Interest rates are still too high. Loan tenures are way too short.  For example Exim bank’s tourism focused loans are at 5 to 7 years. Smaller operators need at least 10 years if we are serious about the sustainability of the small hotels sector.” 

“This sector has helped to create the amazing brand of Jamaican Tourism and must be supported especially as most are owned and operated by Jamaicans.  It is truly UNFAIR when the small hotels sector gets the same treatment as the large and is expected to compete in the same way.  We must review the taxation policies that are geared towards the smaller players,” she lamented.

Senator Allen said “In addition to taxation concerns, they, like all the others now must contend with rising costs in the country. Costs like fuel, food & beverage and utilities, which make operations difficult in an already difficult time.

The JPS has applied to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) for an annual tariff increase.

The JPS' proposal includes consideration for an average adjustment of 3.5% of the non-fuel tariff. 
 
The utility company has proposed a total bill impact of 3.8% for a typical residential customer, and 2.2% for small business customers.
 
The OUR says it is reviewing the application from the JPS and expects to make a decision by September.

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