The government has cleared its $7 billion debt owed to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) for streetlights.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says the street light debt dates back several years and stood at over $7 billion.
Speaking at a disaster preparedness and mitigation town hall in Douglas Castle, St Ann on Thursday, October 25, Mr. McKenzie said that $4.5 billion was paid to the light and power company over a two-month period to reduce the debt significantly. He said the arrears stood in the way of repairs being done to defective streets lights and new ones being installed.
He explained that the Government “then had to find on a monthly basis, $300 million to pay to the [JPS] for street light and when we fail to pay that $300 million, it attracts interest. So… after discussions with Minister of Finance and Public Service, Dr. Nigel Clarke we went to Cabinet [and] Cabinet supported the recommendations that were made. We have now paid off the entire debt. So, come the end of the financial year, we will not owe the JPS one cent.”
Minister McKenzie noted that the JPS has since committed to repairing the country’s 12,000 malfunctioning streetlights by the end of the 2018/2019 financial year.
He also said people can now approach their councilors for new street lights in their areas.