Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Denzil Douglas, on Tuesday this week disclosed that that the government’s biggest concern with the charge was that consumers were not given sufficient advanced notice of the additional fees they will have to pay. However, the concerns being expressed by customers is that it is unjust to add any new charges to their already high electricity bills. For them it is not only a matter of receiving adequate notice of higher charges.
This is something over which numerous consumers have been expressing their disgust and frustration, in recent weeks.
Douglas stated that the billing started in August and those bills have been paid and the September bills are being paid, but he is mindful of what the public has said.
He explained that the government had met with the company earlier this week to discuss the issue. At his monthly press conference Tuesday, Douglas opined that SKELEC was not obligated to inform customers because according to the arrangement between them and government, from time to time the surcharge is going to fluctuate, thus affecting the final cost to consumers.
Douglas added that he has been reluctant to mention the outcome of the discussion because he does not know if the company had made any announcement, and the government can only act based on the announcement of the company.
The company has to take the discussion into the boardroom and make a decision but if they are willing for the next two months not to bill the consumers, the government is going to withhold the charge for those two months, and resume giving normal billing in January after providing adequate notice, the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.
The Prime Minister remarked that he empathizes with the comments of the consumers and in order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, he has requested that SKELEC provide more advanced notice.
He also explained that the increase was not done by government but he admitted that every entity pays Customs Service Charge when they import items to the federation, including SKELEC.
Douglas also revealed that the government still continues to subsidize electricity, by not charging the Excise Tax, which normally should be paid on the importation of fuel. He claimed that they believe if they were to add the Excise Tax it would become too steep for consumers.