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BL&P ‘indispensable’

Article taken from the Nation News Paper – October 20, 2022

MINISTER OF ENERGY AND BUSINESS Kerrie Symmonds has responded to public criticisms, including from one of his ministerial colleagues, of the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL& P), calling the lone supplier of electricity an “indispensable partner”.

Speaking at the Hilton Barbados yesterday morning during the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Renewable Energy Expo, he said while BL& P was not a “perfect institution”, it should be credited for attending to its social responsibilities. During debate in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, October 11, Senior Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr William Duguid, blasted the BL& P for stating in a letter addressed to him that it had done “$4 million in corporate social responsibility in ten years”. He said then: “That can’t be right . . . . It can’t be $4 million in ten years – a company that makes hundreds of millions in dollars to the point that they can pay dividends of $100 million to their entity, as was reported in the press, and in ten years could only give $4 million to the people of this country.

“It is something that they now send to me to curse me about. What I said was absolutely correct, that they were not good corporate citizens,” the Christ Church West MP added.

Pointing out that he was not making a case for the BL& P, Symmonds urged those gathered yesterday to remember the aid the utility company gave to Barbadians during the pandemic.

“I’m not here to make a case for the Light & Power in terms of its perfection, but it is indispensable to the process. And even in the House of Assembly, [there were] criticisms which I think do not resonate comfortably with my sense of conscience and sense of decency.

“When we went through COVID there were people all around this country who were living in households where there was no income and the utility carried the bills without those people losing service. A nightmare situation would have occurred if the utility did not step up to the plate and do that. When the critics talk you don’t hear these things,” he said.

He added that there were times “in recent memory”, where the Government was not able to meet some of the energy bill requirements in order to keep street lights operational across the country, but the BL& P carried the burden until the Government was in a position to deal with the situation.

“There have been times when the water that we rely upon, which has been driven by electricity, was not able to be paid for because the energy bill could not be met by the Government. This is in recent memory. And I can tell you the utility was there . . . . I want for us as a country to recognise that though it is not perfect, that there is a need for us to understand that it is a partner and that it is an indispensable partner to this process,” he said.

During the expo, several businesses and Government representatives highlight where the country stood in relation to the targeted goals for a fully green economy by 2030. Along with various panel discussions, there were showcases of new hybrid and electric vehicles. (JK


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