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Light bills to increase for thousands of consumers

Published:Friday | June 12, 2015 | 6:00 AM

Thousands of Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) customers can expect to see an increase in their electricity bills this month as the general consumption tax (GCT) on residential use is now in effect.

The tax, which became effective on May 1, will begin to show on customers' bills as this month's bill will be based on energy consumption in May.

The standard 16.5 per cent tax will only affect residents who use more than 350 kilowatt-hours (kWh) for the month.

One kilowatt-hour equates to 1,000 watts being utilised per hour and everyday household appliances such as bulbs use approximately 100 watts per hour while air-conditioning units use 3,500 watts per hour (or 3.5kWh).

gct reinstatement

Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips had indicated, during his contribution to the 2015-2016 Budget Debate, that GCT would be reinstated on residential electricity consumption, after being suspended in 2010, as part of the Government's revenue measures.

In a PricewaterhouseCoopers' report titled 'Jamaica: 2015-16 Budget: Tightening the Tax Net - Spreading the Burden', it was stated that the measure would promote greater energy conservation and assist in reducing the country's oil importation bill.

The Jamaica Public Service said on Thursday that consumers would only be taxed for the kWh they use in excess of 350kWh, meaning if a customer is billed for 400kWh of energy consumption, only 50kWh would have GCT applied to it.

Customers will be able to see the tax as it will be a separate line item on the bill.

The JPS estimates that just over 30,000, or approximately six per cent, of its customers will be affected by the tax on electricity usage above the 350kWh level.