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Reduce gov't intervention in electricity connections - Tomblin

Published:Wednesday | July 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Kelly Tomblin, president and chief executive officer ofthe Jamaica Public Service Company. - File
Christine Lagarde (right), managing director of the International Monetary Fund greets Jacqueline Sharp, president and chief executive officer of Scotiabank at a breakfast function hosted by Scotiabank at The Terra Nova Hotel, St Andrew, during her recent visit to Jamaica. - Rudolph Brown/Photographer
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McPherse Thompson, Assistant Business Editor

President and chief executive officer of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), Kelly Tomblin, has urged the Government to minimise its intervention for new electricity connections, arguing that it impacted negatively on doing business in the island.

The Government Electrical Inspectorate is currently required to certify all new connections before the JPS can provide supply, she said, noting that the standard certification time is three weeks.

The length of time impacts negatively on doing business in Jamaica, reflected in the World Bank's Doing Business report, she said, adding that new commercial businesses take 96 days to receive supply, even as she appealed to the Government to make the process more business-friendly.

Addressing a town hall forum organised by the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica (AMCHAM) at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, last Friday, Tomblin emphasised that the Government needs to explore new ways to reduce the time that it takes to get electricity.

growth enhancing reform

Tomblin provided data from the 2014 Doing Business report which show that, among Caribbean countries, the number of days it takes to get electricity range from a high of 82 days in the Dominican Republic to a low of 18 days in St Kitts and Nevis.

As part of its growth-enhancing reforms outlined in its updated memorandum of economic and financial policies, dated June 5, 2014, and presented to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Government said urgent actions will be taken to reduce the time needed for entrepreneurs to get an electricity connection.

"These actions will shorten both the time needed for an inspection by the Government Electricity Inspectorate (GEI) and the time for installation by the power company," it said.

business process review

The report said the Government conducted a business process review and will commence implementation of its recommendations. These include the automation of the work processes within the GEI and the acquisition of information and commercial technology to streamline procedures for scheduling, inspecting, approving and certifying electrical installations.

The contract signature for the acquisition of the application is expected by end-March 2015, with support from the Inter-American Development Bank.

"In the very near-term action will be undertaken to increase the availability of inspectors and improve scheduling in order to generate initial improvements," the report said.

The Government Electrical Inspectorate is the state agency charged with certifying all electrical installations to ensure that they meet the required standards. GEI certification is needed for all new constructions, for premises that have been rewired or which have undergone any kind of renovation. The JPS cannot make connections to premises that have not been certified by the GEI.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com