Fri | Jun 5, 2020

JPS working to ease burden on customers during COVID-19 outbreak

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2020 | 12:36 AMJason Cross - Gleaner Writer
Customers waiting to access the JPS office at Ruthven Road, St Andrew last week. The company implemented social distancing measures as part of the Government’s strategy to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Customers waiting to access the JPS office at Ruthven Road, St Andrew last week. The company implemented social distancing measures as part of the Government’s strategy to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has put forward several crucial requests to the Government in a bid to lower the cost of electricity, as well as to allow the nation to continue to receive efficient service during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Among its requests are zero rating of general consumption tax (GCT) on electricity for both commercial and residential customers, for at least 90 days; removal of the special consumption tax on fuel used in production of electricity by JPS and independent power producers; and assistance from the Bank of Jamaica to secure stable and predictable access to foreign exchange used to procure fuel for power generation.

“We have asked for support from the Bank of Jamaica as it relates to the availability of foreign exchange necessary in procuring fuels in the production of electricity. We have asked the Government to consider the removal of general consumption tax that goes on fuel, that is part of the production cost of electricity at this time,” chief financial officer at JPS, Vernon Douglas, said at a press briefing streamed live on Zoom yesterday, describing the proposals as a three-pronged approach.

At the same time, the entity said it will be cutting the number of outages customers experience over the next few of months.

$45 MILLION COMMITMENT

Senior vice-president of customer service, Ramsay McDonald, said this is to ensure that citizens have “safe, reliable power, throughout this period”.

He said, too, that the utility company is exploring more flexible payment options, “but we can’t do this alone”.

“We have limited the number of outages we are going to be doing over the next couple of months, to only critical maintenance outages. This is to ensure that you have safe, reliable power. We recognise that more of our customers are working from home and doing online schooling. You should see fewer interruptions over the coming months.”

The nation’s power provider has also committed $45 million to help in the fight against COVID-19 and to bring relief to members of the disabled community and the elderly.

Furthermore, the company will be giving assistance to the disabled community as well as the elderly who live alone, who are most at risk at this time. This means that persons who have a JPS account, who are registered with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities or who are senior citizens who live alone, will not be disconnected for April and May.

Additionally, the most vulnerable elderly will be receiving care packages.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com