Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘Put energy in Bajan hands’

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Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn is urging Government to give Barbadians control of the energy sector.

He said it would not make sense to end Canadian-owned Barbados Light & Power Company Limited’s (BL&P) long-standing monopoly only to let other foreign investors take control of energy production.

The People’s Party for Democracy and Development representative also thinks Government should negotiate the exit of BL&P’s parent Emera, asserting that Barbadians were not getting the best deal from the electricity company.

Franklyn was speaking yesterday as the Senate debated and passed the Electric Light and Power (Amendment) Bill 2019.

“It is about time we take responsibility because our energy security should not be in the hands of anybody else. The energy security for this country should be in the hands of Barbadians and regulated by Barbadians. We don’t need . . . foreign investment in this area now, Barbados is a little place,” he said.

“We got the wind, we got the sun, we got the sea, it is just we need now the capital and if you give people the incentives to invest then you don’t need foreign nationals, foreign companies, foreign anything to come here and invest in our energy sector. We had it for too long and it is costing us too much.”

He added: “Right now when the Government is negotiating with them [BL&P/Emera], I think we should be negotiating their exit, we can handle our stuff.”

Franklyn said there was “a lot of money in the banks” that Barbadians could access for energy investments as Government shifted from power produced by fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

“I don’t want people coming in from Germany and all over . . ., we have the capital here, we have the people who should be able to see for themselves. I don’t think we need all of this foreign investment, this is not rocket science, this is simple,” he said.

“We were leaders in solar water heating and we allowed people to get past us and take off because we were afraid to go out there and shine. Barbadians were on the cutting edge of this solar technology and the next logical step was producing electricity but we held back. We must stop holding ourselves back, stop being afraid to take risks.”

He said if Government wanted to welcome foreign investors in the energy sector, it should be on the basis that 51 per cent of the industry would be in Barbadian hands.

“What they [investors] will do is they will not declare a dividend, they will send profits out. So what we need to do is to mobilise the capital that we have here sitting down in the banks and invest in our own future, break up this monopoly called Barbados Light & Power Company Limited,” Franklyn urged. (SC)

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