An opposition lawmaker says electricity rates for households and businesses using fewer than 100 units per month can be reduced from 50 cents to 42 cents per unit.
St. Clair Leacock, a former human resource manager at the state-owned power company — VINLEC — further says consumption of 200 units and under should be exempted from value-added tax (VAT).
“They can reduce the basic rate charge by that 8 cents. You said you would reduce electricity, Major showing you now how to do it,” Leacock said at a New Democratic Party rally in Barrouallie on Saturday.
“But it ain’t done there. It could only be a heartless and wicked government that knows that the fuel surcharge is killing people and will still put a VAT tax on 200 units.
“So the government is not only contributing the coffin, but they also throwing in the hole to bury you as a bonus. That is Ralph Gonsalves for you. They have no conscience,” Leacock said.
He said that the NDP has appointed him to deepen research on electricity and that findings will be presented as a press conference to discuss energy issues.
“VINLEC and the Government are [poking] out the eyes of the consumers when it comes to electricity,” Leacock said.
He said that while Vincentians own VINLEC all of the benefits from the company go to the Government.
“The Government collects taxes at the port when VINLEC imports its equipment. … When VINLEC operates and makes a profit, the Government gets taxes from VINLEC. When the Government run out of money and they want to raise money, the sell treasury bills, VINLEC buys them …” Leacock said.
He further spoke of the PetroCaribe initiative under which the Government only had to pay Venezuela 50 per cent up front for fuel and used the remainder as a 25-year soft loan.
Those loans now stand at EC$41 million, Leacock said.
“None of those benefits have come to you, the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They get the dividends out of VINLEC’s profits,” Leacock said, adding that he was a manager at VINLEC for 11 years and has studied electricity internationally.
“But here is a manager of VINLEC [who] wants to challenge me and say, ‘Mr. Leacock, do you know that some people on St. Vincent only pay 42 cents per unit on their basic charge not 50 cents?’”
Leacock said that he told the managers that such people do not have a fridge, television or iron and questioned if someone would like to live like that in 2013.
“I am putting it to you that every Vincentian who burns up to 100 units can enjoy that same 42 cents rate.
He said that after an AGRA Monenco re-evaluation of the assets of VINLEC in 2005, the assets of VINLEC increased.
He said the company can give the consumers more benefits and drive electricity price down.
“But VINLEC will never change, never change if the government doesn’t have the will or the government does not have the vision to do what Barbados is proceeding to do now, have a public policy to remove the monopoly privilege from VINLEC and let them compete fairly and squarely like any other company so they can be more efficient in delivering electricity service.
“It will take a New Democratic Party government that will send the electricity cost down for you the consumers,” Leacock said