The Electric Light and Power (Amendment) bill, just passed in the House of Assembly, and is now in the Senate. The intent of the Bill appears clear, and the responses of our Parliamentarians during its passage seem to confirm that intent.
The intent appears to prevent expert intervenors (objectors) from frustrating the Government’s efforts from collecting more taxes. Government collects more taxes if BL&P are allowed to charge the public more to supply electrical power. There is so much wrong with the Amendments, but for brevity, I shall present one concern.
According to Section 5A (1) and (2) of the Bill, objectors must inform the Minister of their: (a) interest in the application, (b) grounds of objection, and (c) evidence. Now here is the crazy part.
Section 5A(5) “The Committee shall, in making a recommendation to the Minister in respect of an application for a licence, take into account any representation or objection made in relation to the application that the Minister considers to have merit.”
This situation is so ludicrously not in the public’s interest that we can only lump it. Objectors, who are experts in their field, want to present their case to persons on the Committee with the capacity to understand the technical issues. In Barbados, before an expert objector can approach the technical Committee, they must convince a lay Minister.
Barbadian Ministers seem to believe that they magically become experts in everything within their ministerial portfolio. Based on the responses of our Parliamentarians to this Bill, they are clearly out of their technical depth on this matter.
Expert Objectors may not have the time or patience to teach a busy lay Minister the rudiments of: electrical engineering, structural engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, material science, accounting, law, productivity, etc, and their relation to the rate increases sought by BL&P.
Expert objectors want to make their case to the technical Committee. However, they can only get to that Committee if they can somehow teach the Minister to understand their concerns. If our Senators have the same technical capacity as our Parliamentarians, then we are sunk.