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Gov't looking to cut street light bill

Published:Wednesday | March 31, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Government has announced it is moving to change the agreement by which the Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd (JPS) is paid for providing street lights across the country.

Robert Montague, state minister with responsibility for local government, said yesterday that the move was intended to ensure that parish councils pay only for street lights that are working.

"We are in the process of finalising an MOU (memorandum of understanding) being mediated by the Office of Utilities Regulation with regard to the local authorities and the service providers, because the local authorities in their research ... are projecting approximately a 30 per cent outage on a monthly basis," Montague said. "Therefore, we would like to have a service agreement because we are now paying for street lighting whether they work or not."

He added: "What we are trying to move to is to pay for service provided."

The Government currently owes the JPS $863 million, which is more than the $550 million provided in the Budget, by way of deficit financing, for payment for street lighting.

Montague said it was projected that street light consumption could run up a bill of $1.6 billion this year.

He said $1.1 billion is budgeted to go to the coffers of the parish councils from increased property taxes.

Dr Omar Davies, Opposition spokesman on finance, said the allocation in the Budget for street lighting was not adequate.