CUC deal questioned

Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin has questioned whether the government’s new licence agreement with Caribbean Utilities Company will reduce consumer prices enough.

Mr. Anglin spoke Friday during his debate in Legislative Assembly on the government’s Strategic Policy Statement.

‘I’m glad to hear about this duty rollback,’ he said. ‘I think a little more could have been done, but I leave that to the government to justify why they have only gone this far.’

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts announced during his remarks on the SPS that an agreement in principle had been reached with CUC that would lower residential consumer’s electricity bills by an average 15 per cent, assuming there were no significant increases in oil prices. The deal is expected to come into effect on 1 January 2008.

One of the concessions given by the government to CUC in the new deal was a 20-cents-per-Imperial-gallon rebate on the import duty on the fuel used to power the company’s generators.

CUC is charged duty at a rate of 50 cents per imperial gallon. Under the new agreement, CUC would only pay duty at 30 cents per Imperial gallon.

In February Mr. Anglin called on the government to waive the duty CUC pays on its fuel all together. At the time, a complete waiver of duty would have saved the average household about $30 per month, but fuel prices have risen significantly since then.

Speaking on Saturday, Mr. Anglin also expressed concern about another aspect of the new CUC deal.

‘We haven’t seen the details [of the new deal with CUC], but based on what [Mr. Tibbetts] said, future rate increases will be linked to the Consumer Price Index,’ he said. ‘Does that mean if the CPI is positive, CUC gets some kind of price increase?’

Mr. Anglin said there is generally an upward movement to the CPI.

If future CUC price increases occur every time there is an increase in the CPI, Mr. Anglin said there would be rate increases ‘just about every year’. He expressed concern with how the average citizen would keep up with those increases because earnings are unlikely to go up on an annual basis.

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