Editorial | Power challenges

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EFL workers work on power lines in Lami. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU/ FILE

When Public Works Minister Ro Filipe Tuisawau confirmed that Government will not be raising tariffs for Energy Fiji Ltd (EFL) and Water Authority of Fiji (WAF), he would have won the hearts of many Fijians.

His reaction came in the wake of EFL pursuing a review of charges this year with the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC).

We had reported this on September 4.

EFL chief executive officer Hasmukh Patel said this to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs during the review of EFL’s 2021-2022 Annual Report.

The tariff, he said, was last revised in 2010 and partly in 2011.

In 2013, he said, the tariff was reduced and between 2013 and 2019, the tariff was not revised.

“In 2019, there was a tariff increase of 2.74 (cents), we had sought an increase of about 12.7 (cents),” he said.

For the past four years, the tariff has not been raised, he noted.

He spoke about rising fuel costs and how this has impacted cost of living.

“But EFL has not touched its tariff and the high fuel cost that we have experienced since 2020, we have taken it on our chest so far.

“But we need to look at our tariff – we have to develop all these hydro projects and spend money and obviously we need to have resources to be able to pay back our loans.

“We have sent our submissions to FCCC and very soon we will be holding public consultations with FCCC to explain our submissions.”

The minister spoke about assessments that had been submitted and submissions made before the new government came into power.

He maintained raising the tariff now wasn’t something the Government wanted right now.

“There might be justifications behind it, but at the moment the people are already going through pressure in terms of the cost of living and that’s not something we envision will happen for the foreseeable future.”

In the face of all that, we wonder about the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ in terms of what EFL is after.

What systems upgrade, where, and is there a timeline for this to be started and completed.

How much will that cost?

We wonder whether there was consultation done with the line minister.

Consumers would understandably be keen to see more effort put into minimising unplanned power cuts.

In fact that would be a major contention issue for quite a number of people around the country who are quite touchy about the issue of damage to their electrical items for instance.

There are issues we need to address in terms of service delivery, and from the perspective of the provider, there are obviously issues they have highlighted which will need to be addressed.

There are challenges and for now, there will be acknowledgement by the masses for the stance taken by the minister.

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