'Extortionists!' Senators want JPS to relinquish monopoly

Published: Saturday | July 9, 2011 Comments 0

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

SENATORS YESTERDAY depicted the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) as exploitative, burdensome, and extortionist, forcing Leader of Opposition Business Senator A.J. Nicholson to pour oil on troubled waters.

Nicholson's intervention came during a debate on a Private Members Motion aimed at getting the JPS to surrender what was described as its monopolistic stranglehold on the light and power industry.

The motion, piloted by government Senator Dennis Meadows, clearly electrified some senators.

In advancing some old arguments, senators on both sides of the political divide were united against perceived unfair treatment being meted out to the Jamaican populace by the JPS.

Frenetic pace

A frenetic pace was set by Meadows, with government Senator Hyacinth Bennett and the Opposition's Sandrea Falconer providing support.

However, there was consensus that discussions should be pursued to change the current contract with the JPS to facilitate a competitive arena.

Nicholson called for a more measured approach to facilitate "structured and respectful" discussions.

He was supported by his opposition counterpart, Mark Golding, who cautioned against demonising the JPS, which has invested billions of dollars in the local economy.

In approving the motion, the Senate recommended the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee to chart a way forward.

In a brief response yesterday, the JPS said it is open to facilitating any discussions with policymakers on the way forward for the electricity industry and what is best for the Jamaican people.

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