Wale says cost of electricity in SI ‘terrible joke’
The provision of electricity has been unreliable and at extremely excessive cost over many years since independence.
Leader of Opposition Hon Matthew Wale highlighted in Parliament during his debate speech on the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2023 today.
Hon Wale said excessive pricing and unreliable service are often characteristics of inefficient state-run monopolies.
“In other words, SIEA has been shielded from market forces and this has allowed inefficiencies to remain entrenched. The tariff structure and pricing has propped up SIEA for too long and there has never really been a proper justified accounting for excessive tariffs,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said it is unreasonable when electricity represents slightly more than a third of a Solomon Islander household budget in an urban setting.
Hon Wale said and when it gets unaffordable and the invoice remains unpaid as households look for money to settle their bills, they are punished with a prohibitive reconnection fee.
“This is another classic characteristic behaviour of a monopoly. There are no alternative providers so customers are unable to shop around. Solomon Water does the same,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said mostly the reconnection fee is unjustified as reconnection service should either be automated or absorbed into operations of the monopolies.
Hon Wale added the cost and reliability of electricity has also been a major disincentive to sizeable quality investments in Solomon Islands.
He said the economy of the next 30 years ought to be built on sizable investments in manufacturing and processing of forestry, agriculture and fisheries.
“Energy is essential to such quality investments both in cost and reliability. No business wants to invest significant resources where it is charged the highest rates in the world and also needs to install its own backup generators. It is a terrible joke,” Hon Wale said.
He said this situation has been left unattended for so long beggar’s belief.