EFL: Default on payments will result in disconnection

EFL CEO Hasmukh Patel . Picture: JONA KONATACI/FILE

Energy Fiji Ltd (EFL) will disconnect power supply to customers who default on payments, says CEO Hasmukh Patel.

In response to queries from this newspaper, he said only sudsidised customers — households with incomes less than $30,000 — would not have to pay for the first 100 units consumed.

Everyone else – including those who have lost jobs or had income reduced because of a reduction in hours — were expected to pay their bills in full or face disconnection.

EFL’s 2019 Annual Report, presented to Parliament last week on Thursday said, on page 77 under Credit Risk, “during this COVID-19 pandemic period, EFL has not experienced any major impairment to customers accounts as a result of default in the timely repayments of electricity bills”.

“To ensure that the impairment loss to EFL is kept at a minimum, EFL will be disconnecting these customers’ accounts on timely basis and ensure that the customers security deposit maintained by EFL, which is based on two (2) months of electricity usage is sufficient to offset these debts,” the report said.

This newspaper had sent Mr Patel an email and asked if EFL’s position in regards to customers paying

“Yes,” replied Mr Patel.

He said EFL had already decided on the concessions the company would offe.r to their subsidised domestic customers, as announced in the COVID-19 budget.

“Unfortunately, FT is not aware of this. I am not surprised.”

Mr Patel said for the first 100 units of electricity consumed each month by subsidised customers, Government subsidised 48 per cent and the customer paid 52 per cent.

“However, for the six months period from April, 2020 to September, 2020, as a result of the impact of COVID-19, the Government will continue to bear 48 per cent of the cost for the first 100 units of electricity and EFL will take care of the 52 per cent.”

He said this meant the subsidised customer will only pay the VAT component levied on the first 100 units. Subsidised customers, however, would have to pay for all additional units consumed in excess of 100 units.

According to the 2019 EFL Annual Report, 32,346 Fijian households were subsidised customers.

In his COVID-19 budget address, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum made no mention of utility bill assistance to households where income earners had lost jobs or had reduced income because of reduced hours.

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