Taxation, JPS & the Energy Policy

Posted on December 3, 2010. Filed under: General Information |

With very few exceptions, whenever the Jamaica Public Service comes in the news, the public seems to get the fecal end of the stick.

I think it’s such an irony that the name is “Jamaica Public Service”.

I know most people would say the JPS has done Jamaica a great disservice.

I dare say the JPS doesn’t act alone. Successive administrations have contributed to this current situation,  pardon the pun. The governments have watched, as voyeurs do, while someone gets screwed.

I know, I know, the country is strapped for cash, that’s nothing new. These days though, it has become painfully obvious that taxation seems to be the quick fix for budget shortfalls. Dear Mr. Shaw, kindly note, if we tax everything but cannot increase compliance and collection, then we’ll never get out of this mess, but I digress.

Recently the government introduced a tax on JPS reconnection fees. I am yet to be convinced how this makes any real sense. If it is that so many people have to be paying reconnection fees, it’s a clear sign that persons are having difficulty paying their bills on time. Why would you want to capitalise on what is already a difficult situation? On the other hand most persons tend not to try conserving electricity so their bills are high and in many cases unbearable. I’ve been successful at keeping my monthly JPS bill under $1600, believe it or not.

Earlier this year the JPS requested an increase in its rates and the Office of Utilities Regulation granted the request (albeit, less than what JPS requested). The request was completely legal based on the contract under which the JPS operates in Jamaica. The next increase request is contractually due in 2015 (I think), so we have a little time to save money for that request.

I think it is time Jamaica and Jamaicans focus on the need for an alternative and cheaper source of energy. Jamica is the land of wood, water along with lotsa  sun and wind. Can the Ministry of Energy & Mining explain why we have not invested HEAVILY in solar or wind-energy generation?

We have sun for most of the 365 days of the year, so I can’t wrap my mind around why successive administrations have neglected to make the necessary policy changes that would encourage the use of solar or wind energy to provide MOST or even 50% of Jamaica’s energy needs.

We have to import oil and it pay for it with foreign exchange. Buying oil to produce energy is one of Jamaica’s biggest spends annually. If we use solar and wind technology we can cut the nation’s energy bill significantly. WE MUST CUT OUR DEPENDENCE ON OIL! The savings on oil could be used to pay international debt and more importantly, pay our teachers, nurses, police and other civil servants.

Why is the duty so high on the  importation of solar panels and on the equipment used in harnessing and storing solar power?  The government needs to address this matter and encourage businesses and families to switch to solar and wind technology to ease the strain on the country’s energy bill.

Create some type of incentive scheme for companies and families which invest in the technology which will reduce the country’s energy bill. On its own the government should move in a direction which would make the need for a an oil-based energy creation entity like the JPS obsolete. I certainly wouldn’t miss the JPS.

I hope the “National Energy Policy” will address our energy situation in a way which capitalises on our natural resources. Additionally, it must ensure that the cost of energy to the consumer is much lower than what currently obtains.

Until that Energy Policy is enacted, I appeal to the government – please make it easier for businesses and families that desire to use renewable energy sources like wind, solar and biofuels.

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2 Responses to “Taxation, JPS & the Energy Policy”

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Article touches a few sore point being made by many others–Focus on imported energy supply, failure to encourage renewables & importantly the seemingly free hand given to the JPS Co.

Great post what I think anyone thinking about building a house now must put in their budget money for solar and gutters and also a tank to catch rain water. I mean if you have 6 million to build the house put a million aside for these things and cut out jps and the water commission completely, we have to get off the grid.


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