The opposition, People’s National Party (PNP); through it’s Shadow Minister of Energy, Phillip Paulwell, once more is calling upon the Andrew Holness led administration to immediately remove the hedge fund component of the Special Consumption Tax (SCT) on fuel and the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on electricity bills which will allow for Jamaicans to pay less at gas stations and also for electricity bills.
In a release from the party, Paulwell noted that whereas the increase in electricity may also be as a result of the ongoing devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, the portion of the SCT which was intended to finance the Hedge Fund continues to be a significant contributor to high energy prices.
This, he alleges, is particularly egregious as the government has bought no oil hedge insurance for the past four years.
He explained that this is causing an additional financial burden to Jamaicans at a time when many are unemployed or have reduced salaries due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.
The shadow minister added that, with the closing of schools and children receiving instructions through online platforms, domestic energy usage is increasing significantly as households are using more electricity for CXC and other academic preparations, hinting that the government must step in and show care.
With that said, JPS customers are experiencing an average increase of some 7.3% on their electricity bills due to the rapid devaluation of the Jamaican dollar and the fact that Petrojam’s prices are not falling in line with world market trends.
JPS has also announced that it is using $142.95: US$1 to calculate customer’s bill for the month of May.
Paulwell unhappy with the findings and announcements said in a statement that “in light of the reduction in fuel costs globally, which should have resulted in purchasing prices being at the lowest they have been in decades” he is calling for the removal of the hedge fund component of the SCT and the GCT for the benefit of lower oil prices to be passed on to consumers.
He also added that “it is hard to imagine that Jamaican consumers and businesses can continue to bear increases in energy prices in the present circumstances,” and that it is full time that Jamaicans benefit from lower international oil prices.