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McKenzie says JPS streetlight bill is challenging

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, says that the government has paid the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) $3.9 billion over the past two fiscal years for street lighting.

McKenzie told the House of Representatives, in the sectoral debate today at Gordon House that “financing of this vital service continues to be challenging”.

He said, since April, the ministry has been billed for $303.6 million, and has paid $400 million on that bill. In fact, over the past nine weeks $1.7 billion has been paid to the JPS to address arrears.

However, McKenzie pointed out that, despite the huge payments, the arrears are still over $6 billion.

“When this administration came into office in 2016, it inherited a debt of $3.7 billion. Over the 2017/18 financial year, the bill for streetlights to the Jamaica Public Service Company was $3.29 billion. In the same period, the ministry disbursed $2.4 billion to the company,” McKenzie said.

“Since April of this year, the ministry has been billed $303.6 million, and has paid $400 million. Overall, $3.9 billion has been paid to JPS in the past two years,” he told the House.

He said that his ministry continues to have discussions with the company, to ensure that the arrears are reduced and ultimately liquidated.

He said, in the meantime, the three-year Smart LED Streetlight installation programme, which started on June 1 last year, is proceeding apace.

“The installation target for 2017 was 35,000 Smart LED lamps, and JPS has reported that, between June last year and January this year, 36,445 lamps were installed. These were placed in St James, Trelawny, Hanover, Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, St Mary, St Ann and Westmoreland,” the minister said.

“The target for 2018 is 15,000 LED lamps, and the aim is to ensure that the agreed installation target of 105,000 lamps is achieved.

“The JPS is reporting that between January and the middle of March this year, 229 LED lamps have been installed in sections of St Mary, St James, Manchester and St Catherine, including 134 along the Mandela Highway,” he noted.

Balford Henry

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