Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
CABINET WILL next Monday consider whether it will continue to join the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) in appealing a court ruling that the company's monopoly on transmission and distribution is not valid.
Phillip Paulwell, the energy minister, is being encouraged to resign his post following this week's decision by Attorney General Patrick Atkinson to file the appeal against the ruling.
Yesterday, Paulwell told The Gleaner that "the Government has not taken a decision to appeal this matter".
"All the attorney general has done (is) because the time was passing there ... the last day of that time was Monday. He filed to hold the Government's position but the Cabinet is to contemplate whether or not to pursue it and that has not been done as yet," Paulwell said.
Under the court rules, unsuccessful parties have 42 days from the handing down of a judgment in the Supreme Court to file an appeal in the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court, on July 30, had ruled in favour of Citizens United to Reduce Electricity Rates, a civil-rights organisation, which argued that the licence which gives the JPS a monopoly on transmission and distribution is illegal.
atkinson declines comment
Asked why the Government did not take a decision about whether it would appeal before, Paulwell said "the matter has just not arisen and that could be due to several pressing matters but Cabinet will consider it on Monday".
Atkinson yesterday declined to comment on the issue saying the country would be informed after Cabinet meets next week.
In the meantime, Paulwell said his utterances on the judgment have been careful.
"Apart from saying it is a major decision, I have been careful to comment on it as to its rightness or wrongness because legally I have to be careful. There might be compensation claims on the Government by JPS," Paulwell said.
He told The Gleaner his view has always been that competition is necessary in the transmission and distribution of electricity and that the way to achieve competition is by enabling people to connect to the grid.
"What the court decision did was to enable other grids to be established or other infrastructure to be established. It is not one and the same thing as I am doing," Paulwell said.
However, at the time of the ruling, Paulwell, who had just returned from a meeting with East-West Power, the majority owner of JPS, had said the ruling "will bolster my own position in this matter. I think it strengthens our situation".