Roker hits out at BEC
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 09, 2013
A former minister with responsibility for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) yesterday charged that the management team of the financially-strapped corporation is “weak” and called on the government to investigate BEC’s operations.
A. Loftus Roker, who had oversight of BEC from 1975 to 1984, said he is not satisfied with the management of the corporation.
“I would like to send a message to the Right Honorable Perry Christie,” said Roker at a press conference at the House of Labour on Wulff Road.
“Something is seriously wrong with BEC. He ought to appoint an independent group to find out what is wrong at BEC so that the Bahamian public, who after all owns BEC, would know what’s going on.
“...The government needs to find out what is going on at BEC. Are we employing people there that we don’t need which is eating up the cash at the corporation? That has happened before. Is that what we’re doing now and if that’s what we are doing, is that the best way to operate?”
Roker warned that if the government waits too long to get a grip on the corporation, it might be faced with an even bigger problem.
“If they wait until something happens like what is happening at the National Insurance [Board], then it will be too late. BEC would have a more immediate effect on our economy than National Insurance would,” he said
NIB Director Algernon Cargill is on suspension amid claims of misconduct.
Roker said Prime Minister Christie might be shocked to find out what is happening at the corporation if he orders an investigation.
BEC has been losing money for years.
BEC Chairman Leslie Miller revealed earlier this year that the corporation was on track to lose up to $50 million at the end of this year.
“So far for the first quarter of this year, BEC is losing some $12.7 million," said Miller during debate on the mid-year budget in March.
“If we continue on that path, we could substantially lose in excess of $40 million to $50 million. And that's why the government has to arrest the situation with these government entities.”
Last year, the corporation lost $18 million.
Roker said much of the corporation’s problems fall on the management team.
“First of all, you have a very weak management team at BEC,” he said. “The people managing BEC are weak.”
When pressed on how he came to form that opinion, Roker said he believes that the things that are happening at BEC would not be happening if the management wasn’t weak.
“I am not satisfied that the financial workings of BEC [are] being properly managed,” Roker said.
“I am not satisfied at all. And I say that because don’t bring [any] excuse to me that it’s because of the cost of fuel...Something else must be wrong.”
Asked to comment on Roker’s claim that BEC’s management is weak, Miller told The Nassau Guardian that he “agrees 1,000 percent”.
Miller said, “BEC should have never been allowed to go into the state that it’s in. That has directly to do with the management of the corporation over the years.
“Unlike what happened in Mr. Roker’s days, politicians after him did not have the guts to stand up to the various unions which have held the Bahamian people hostage by getting more than what they are entitled to get.”
As for his thoughts of any privatization efforts, Roker said he does not agree with privatization at all.