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Miller foreshadows BEC restructuring

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: May 10, 2013

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The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is set to be restructured “from top to bottom” as the corporation’s board seeks to turn the financially strapped organization around, according to BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller.

“One of the major constraints that we have as a corporation is the salaries of BEC employees,” Miller told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.

“Because of the union and what has happened over the last 30 years, it has reached a saturation point where BEC simply can't afford the salaries anymore.

“...It's outrageous. We are doing a reorganization now from top to bottom. Changes must come.

“We are hoping that we can get BEC back to a time when BEC can be self sustaining... We hope that BEC would be in a position to carry its own weight soon and by extension put money back into the treasury.”

Miller did not say whether the reorganization would result in lay-offs.

He said BEC is committed to adding profit to the treasury by the end of the next fiscal year.

He said he recently held a meeting with the treasurer and Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis.

“We are committed to providing the public treasury with $15 million per annum beginning the month of July, which is the start of the government’s financial year,” Miller said.

“We are committed to putting into the treasury over a 12-month period $15 million. We will just have to find the means and the ways to get it done.

“We will have to be more vigilant in our collection...especially for those large customers who have neglected their bills to BEC and get our people to work closer with...our consumers.”

He added that the corporation is doing its best in the current economic conditions.

“It’s very difficult,” Miller said.

“But I believe that with the restructuring that is going to happen very soon, and with our goals and objectives... Bahamians can expect to see some appreciable changes.”

Miller said BEC is on track to losing between $40 million and $50 million by the end of this fiscal year.

BEC lost $18 million last year.

Miller did not explain yesterday in any specific terms how the corporation would be able make a substantial financial turnaround in such a short period.

“Right now BEC is the biggest public entity. BEC should not be in the state it is in,” he said.

“BEC used to give the government $20 million per annum. So how did it get where it is?

“The unions have done it. They have really held the Bahamian people hostage by getting more and more than [they are entitled to]. We have to change that.”

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