Minister calls for cheaper electricity
The cost of electricity in Samoa remains far too high.
As a challenge to the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C), their new Minister, Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, wants the Corporation to make electricity cheaper for all households in Samoa in the next five years.
“My challenge for the next five years is to cut down the cost of electricity especially for the sake of low income earners,” he said. “With the big businesses, they can find ways to recover their costs but our target should be to help low income earners.”
The Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure made the call yesterday during a ceremony held at the Development Bank of Samoa where E.P.C welcomed Papali’i and his Associate Minister, Seiuli Ueligitone Seiuli.
“The country is crying out for the high cost of living and electricity to drop,” Papali’i said, addressing E.P.C’s staff members.
“I agree with the perception and questions from the people who are asking why electricity prices continue to be so high with all these solar projects?
“They are asking what is the use of these solar companies and these solar projects when the price of electricity has yet to drop?
The Minister also raised the issue of tariffs. He said he wanted to understand it because he would have to answer to Parliament and members of the public about how it is calculated.
Last Sunday, Taua Fatu Tielu raised questions about how tariffs are calculated in a letter to the editor.
“The published EPC tariff charges effective from 01 April 2016 are lower than those for the previous month of March.
“However EPC as of yesterday (Thursday), 7 days since the 1st of April, is still selling its electricity at the higher rates for March, meaning everyone who bought and paid electricity during those days has been overcharged and should be entitled to refunds.
“When I enquired with one of the cashiers at the TATTE building office he said the new rates for April should have been changed but they have apparently not. I feel sorry for the majority of our people that are being ripped off by many business organisations simply because they don't check their bills.
Can someone answer these questions:
• How EPC is supposed to change its tariff each month?
• What mechanism it has in ensuring that the change has actually been made on time, and whether and how EPC is going to refund the overcharges that customers have already paid for April?
• Has EPC corrected the tariff charges for April following my complaint?”
Yesterday, Papali’i acknowledged that there are questions that must be addressed about this issue.
Getting back to the goal of cheaper electricity, he emphasised that it is important to meet the target outlined in the Human Rights Protection Party manifesto to cut down cost of electricity.
“I don’t want to eavesdrop but E.P.C has a lot of money and it also has a lot of debt,” said Papali’i.
“Try to balance that equation to drop the cost of electricity.”
The Minister reminded each employee to value the work they do as it improves the standard of service offered by the Corporation and contributes to the development of the country.
Papali’i used a scripture from the bible, Luke 16 verse 10 that reads; “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” to encourage the workers.
He recalled the days where he started off as a Bank Officer for the Bank of Western Samoa and from there he worked his ways all the way up.
“We don’t think that we will end up being at the top but these are the mysteries that we do not know and are only revealed at its own time,” said Papali’i.
“Let’s commit to our work. My advice is if you are used to being late to work you will not take the lead…you might be stealing from your work time but you cannot steal God’s time. God is faithful to those who are faithful to him.”
The Minister added even he gets to work on time so he can be a role model to his staff.
Papali’i was a former Minister of Finance and Chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee.