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Mar 27, 2008

P.U.C. to announce decision on B.E.L. rate hike on Friday

In the wake of an announcement by Belize Electricity Limited that the company is applying for a fifteen percent increase in the cost of power, Belizeans have been voicing their objections on the nation’s airwaves … and to the Public Utilities Commission. In a press release issued by the P.U.C., at the close of the submission deadline on Tuesday, one hundred and ninety written comments were sent in to the regulatory body … and all of them were against the price hike. The protests include letters written on behalf of the eighty-five employees of the Income Tax Department, the fifteen thousand members of the National Trade Union Congress, the Belize Chamber of Commerce, the Belmopan City Council, area representatives Cordel Hyde and Mark Espat, and former senator Anthony Chanona. Grounds for the objections range from simple statements like “rates are already too high and Belizeans cannot afford it” to more complex comments like “B.E.L.’s profits are enough to justify them holding off a rate increase until the economic environment improves and any future increase must be linked to better customer service.” In response to the N.T.U.C.B. remarks, B.E.L. stated categorically, “All businesses need to make a profit. Like many other businesses, B.E.L. has certain profitability and sustainability covenants attached to various loans that it undertook.” The P.U.C. says it will take all suggestions into consideration and announce its recommendation on Friday.

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