ST. VINCENT (Jan. 20):- Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has suggested that his government will crack down on the wastage of electricity in the public service this year.

The cost of electricity continues to be a large cost driver for the government. In the 2011 budget, an increase of 13.5 per cent was provided to take care of electricity arrears,” Gonsalves said while presenting the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, which legislators approved on Thursday.

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“I am going to talk about this more in the budget speech [next Monday, Jan. 24]. I am going to be relentless this year. We have set up some machinery to address this question of energy audits and you see that I put the Energy Unit in my ministry now, from capital to recurrent. We waste too much electricity in the public service,” he said.

“I [went] into a meeting just a week or so ago, we finished the meeting … about 6:00 and there were persons there who should know to switch off the fans. I wasn’t in my office and it just struck me that nobody did and I went back, the three fans were still on, the lights were still on. If I didn’t go back and switch them off, they would have been there all night,” Gonsalves said.

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He further spoke of electricity wastage in school buildings, adding “we have to do something about this and everybody has to help in the public service with this”.

“We’re wasting energy. The Brent Crude price is now US$100 a barrel, it’s climbing back up. We got to be serious about this. But I can talk about it, I can put pressure but I have to follow up on it all the time and everybody has to internalise it,” Gonsalves said.