NFP concerned with EFL’s proposal to increase tariff rates

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad speaks to members of the media as party member Lenora Qereqeretabua, left, and vice president Seini Nabou listens on during a press conference at the National Federation Party office in Tamavua, Suva on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE National Federation Party (NFP) has raised concerns on submissions by Energy Fiji Ltd (EFL) seeking a 17.27 per cent increase in tariff rates per unit, labelling it a “further blow to our ordinary people”.

In an advertisement last week, the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission confirmed the submissions from EFL for the proposed increase and called for submissions from members of the public as it wished to undertake a comprehensive review of the electricity tariff rate.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad claimed that EFL was seeking the tariff increase basing it on an assessment by the Asian Development Bank.

He said the party had noted with concern that the EFL submission said tariff rates should be reviewed every four years which obviously meant that consumers must brace for tariff increases every four years.

Prof Prasad said EFL’s claims that the tariff rates were the lowest in the region was “nit-picking”.

Speaking during a press conference yesterday, he said it was worth noting that FEA, until it changed to EFL in 2017, was making significant profits from 2010, except for 2014 when it made a marginal profit.

“We would like EFL to provide statistics on the number of domestic consumers who benefit from the Government subsidy because we recall that two years ago the number had dropped significantly,” he said.

“This is a further blow to our ordinary people as it will further escalate the rising cost of living. The cost of living is already unsustainable.”

Prof Prasad said this was an issue of national importance and should receive the widest possible publicity so that every consumer was aware of it.

He said ordinary consumers did not understand the complexities of submissions and technical details that were in EFL’s submission.

FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham said they would undertake an extensive national consultation for submissions on the issue to ensure that they went to the people to hear their views.

“This is the call for written submissions and other platforms for submissions will be opened for review.”

EFL chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel said they would respond to queries sent to them in “due time”.

“We have given our proposal to FCCC and they have said the reasons as to why they are doing all that and it’s all on their website,” Mr Patel said.

Meanwhile, consumers have until June 14 to make written submissions to FCCC.

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