Debate over proposed power increase

The proposed 10% increase in electricity tariff in Samoa has received negative responses by the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and the country’s Opposition. While it’s still in its consultation stage, the proposed increase has already caused heated arguments between the country’s Prime Minister, Tuila’epa Lupesoli’ai Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and the country’s Leader of Opposition, Palusalue Fa’apo II. Palusalue says the whole purpose behind this increase is to find funding to repay the US$100 million debt the Electric Power Corporation (EPC) owes the Asian Development Bank for the establishment of the new main power plant at Fiaga. This plant was opened last year.

“The government should pay for this debt instead of passing the burden to the country’s businesses and consumers, members of the public”. The Prime Minister in response has hit back at the Opposition Leader labelling his latest complaint as stupid. “Cabinet hasn’t even received anything on this plan and yet he’s jumping to conclusions already. These changes often take years to implement so I don’t understand why the Opposition is even mentioning this increase when it hasn’t even taken place,” the Prime Minister told the media.

A feedback from Samoa’s Chamber of Commerce recently shared publicly has prompted the Opposition Leader to raise the matter now. The chamber’s submission to the Office of the Regulator argued that EPC’s proposed price increase is too much. The Office of the Regulator invited the Samoa Chamber of Commerce to review the Electric Power Corporation’s plans to increase tariffs on electricity bills. In its report, the chamber wrote that, “…As the national private sector organisation, the chamber considers that not only would the proposed cost increase place a significant burden on businesses, it would also jeopardise the very industries that contribute the most revenue to the country’s GDP, as well as EPC itself. “

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