The recent review of the Consumer Security Deposit by the FEA due to Section 62 of the Electricity Cap Act has been nothing more than a well orchestrated maneuver by the management of FEA to fleece the people of Fiji of their hard earned dollars. It began as an increase in electricity rates, due to excess diesel fuel usage on their diesel generators thanks to the falling water levels in Monasavu Dam. There is no rain, and the oil price is high, went the nightly cry on Fiji 1 News by Hasmukh Patel.
And so they got their increase, and the households of Fiji had no choice but to pay.
Now, just as we’re getting used to the rates, the FEA has chosen the moment to unleash its next salvo – an increase in Consumer Security Deposit thanks to an increase in monthly electricity bills. “It is a requirement of the ACT,” they boldly claim – Pay-up, it is the Law!
They have not released any figures to the public, but a quick look at the Bureau of Statistics, and this writer estimates that about 120,000 households that have access to electricity, will be paying an average of an additional $50 into their Security Deposits. A nice windfall of at least $6million for the FEA and its bank account, from its customers who the FEA confidently feel have no choice but to pay. In terms of the general economy and the multiplier effect of money, this will result in a $30million decrease to the economy in the months leading upto Christmas. Seemingly small, but enough to push our GDP back into the red.
Is this how its going to be? It was not the consumers who increased their electricity usage. It was FEA who increased the charges.
With Oil falling below $80, and increased rainfall throughout the Fiji group, have the consumers been given any indication that their rates will now come down? Of course they have not.
Have the FEA, and those in charge ever paid interest to their customers on the Security Deposits held in their account? If not, why not? It is money that FEA has either already used in its day to day operations, or if it is holding it in trust, is enjoying the interest accumulating on the amounts. Any bank manager will be able to tell you that $45 attracting an interest of 5% for 30 years will accumulate to a little over $216. Is it time then, for the long-serving, and long-suffering customers of the FEA to demand reimbursement on their security deposits?
The managers of the FEA may be able to pull the wool over our law-makers eyes, but we will not be fooled. The people of Fiji, including the pensioners, are the Nation. Therefore matters that affect the People, affect the Nation. A question that now must be asked of our Government must be, whose interests will now be served? The Nation or FEA’s?
Rick Rickman Pensioner