Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Gov't owes JPS $5b on street lights bill

Published:Wednesday | February 15, 2017 | 1:55 PM

New documents are showing that the Government did not pay its bill for street lights for three months in the current fiscal year.

The non-payment for September, October and December 2016 helped to push the outstanding balance for the period April to December to $1.1 billion.

The total bill for those three months is $768 million.

For the April to December period, the government paid $945 million out of the $2 billion that it was billed for.

Overall, the Local Government Ministry owes the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) approximately $5 billion.

That amount includes $4 billion that was brought over into the current fiscal year.

Local government ministry officials disclosed the information this morning before the Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee.

The Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Denzil Thorpe, admitted that the ministry is not getting enough from property taxes to cover the bill for street lights.

However, no explanation was provided for the non-payment of light bills for the period in question.

The committee chairman, Dr Wykeham McNeill, noted that the Ministry of Finance has not been providing the adequate support.

He also expressed concern that there appears to be no plan to clear the outstanding amounts.

Thorpe said that talks are ongoing with JPS to clear the bill, while using so-called smart meters to help bring down the cost. 

Government has argued that JPS has been billing it for street lights that do not work.