My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Lack of Waivers for Expensive Alternative Energy Gear - Mr. Paul Chong's Adoption Contradiction

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lack of Waivers for Expensive Alternative Energy Gear - Mr. Paul Chong's Adoption Contradiction

Hark, hark! The lark at Heaven’s gate sings,

And Phoebus’s gins rise

Shakespeare, Cymbeline, II, 3

In my blog article entitled “Ministry of Energy Clive Mullings alters the JPS Co License for Energy Sector Liberalization - Jamaica and The Sun Salutes You”, Minister Clive Mullings of the Ministry of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications announced what is effectively a partial liberalization of the Energy Sector.

Net Billing, Power Wheeling and an increase on the Alternative Energy cap to 15MW from 10MW are, really, only of benefit to three (3) sets of people in Jamaica:

1.      Individuals who own Wind Turbines and Solar Panels
2.      Residential Solar PUC (Power Utility Company)
3.      Alternative Energy IPP (Independent Power Producers) 

This as Government of Jamaica Import Waivers on Alternative Energy equipment such as Solar Panels and Wind Turbines have been removed after a two (2) year run as recorded by the scribes in the articleGreen energy traders lose tax subsidy - Say consumers will be hit with higher prices”, published Friday June 10, 2011 by Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

So my simple argument is that the Government of Jamaica needs to re-impose the Import Waivers on Alternative energy Gear to fuel the rapid adoption of Alternative Energy in Jamaica as well as encouraging local Private Commercial Banks to create special loans for the purchase of such equiptment, extendable to homeowners and mortgagers. Making them excruciatingly expensive for the ordinary man to afford the option of going off the JPS Co Grid is not the way to reduce Jamaica’s Oil Bill in the long term.

Equiptment such as Solar Shingles, a clever low cost way to roof your house and generate electricity at the same time with one installation courtesy of Dow Chemicals as stated in the article “Dow ramps up production of solar shingles for the consumer”, published OCTOBER 20, 2011 BY MIKE FLACY, DigitalTrends.

An option Mr. Paul Chong, a retired business man from St Mary, has exercised via his JA$5 million investment in an Alternative Energy systems since Power Supply difficulties experienced during Hurricane Dean (2007) as noted in the article “Off the grid - St Mary man turns to wind energy”, published Wednesday, October 26, 2011 BY ALESIA EDWARDS Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

So one wonders what former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Senator Dr. Christopher Tufton really mean when he declare that the freeze on Import Waivers were good for Jamaica as noted in the article “Waiver suspension good for Jamaica,says Tufton”, published Tuesday, April 27, 2010 BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

After all, since the Import Waivers freeze on Sunday August 1st 2010AD (my birthday by the way!!!) as stated in the article “Freeze on waivers”, published Tuesday, August 03, 2010 BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large, The Jamaica Observer, the study that was also commissioned to determined what exactly should receive a Import Waivers and how to combat abuse of the Import Waivers system is yet to be made public.

The rationale behind the Import Waiver freeze is understandable: more than 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is represented by these import waivers, which needs to be captured in light of the shortfall in Government of Jamaica Revenues.

Then Prime Minister Bruce Golding explained this at the 58th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural Show in Clarendon Jamaica, quote: “If the issuing of waivers is not achieving the desired effects, then it is time to revisit it. The country is wrestling with a fiscal deficit of seven to eight per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for this year. It will take us four years to get it down to zero.”

Not missing a beat, he then went on to explain, quote: “The waivers and incentives that we are granting amount to 14 per cent of GDP. That cannot continue. That 14 per cent of GDP must come down. We cannot continue to give away waivers and incentives, when we want to fix farm roads. Whatever waivers and incentives that have already been approved will continue.”

Also, the Jamaican Economy has been growing after this decision had been made, taking away some of the stress of Ministerial work which often involved being pressured into signing Import Waivers for political friends, as implied by then Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Senator Dr. Christopher Tufton.

The Second Quarter of 2011AD, April to June 2011AD, saw the Jamaica Economy being projected to grow by 1.5% compared to the same corresponding period in 2010AD as noted by the PIOJ (Planning Institute of Jamaica) in the article “Jamaican economy grows 1.5 per cent”, published 2011-08-24 17:16:08  by Jerome Reynolds, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Since then, the PIOJ has gladly declared via the Horse’s mouth, the Jamaica Information Service, that it has now turned out to be a lot better than expected – 2.1% sustained growth in the April to June 2011AD, a fact as stated in the article “Jamaica's Economy Grows by 2.1% in Second Quarter”, published FRIDAY, 07 OCTOBER 2011 15:58, JIS.

So the Import Waivers, which represent 14% of GDP, are making a sizeable contribution to Jamaica’s Economic growth. To increase that growth, it can be easily argued that a re-imposition of the Import Waivers on Alternative Energy Gear can save the Jamaican Economy on Oil importation.

Thus far, large scale installation such as the Wigton Wind Farm owned by the PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) have been saving the Jamaica government some JA$229 million on fuel imports for the five (5) month of fiscal Year 2011-2012AD as stated in the article “In Five Months, Wigton Saves Jamaica $229 Million”, published Sunday September 25, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Imaginably, this savings would be greater if the entire Jamaica was a part of this push towards a mass adoption of Alternative Energy as intimated in my blog article entitled “JPS Co New Digital Meters are all Smart Meters - Winsome Callum's A Simple Twist of Fate” after the success of the Digital Meters islandwide Six thousand (6,000) Guinea Pig Run.

So when the Import Waiver Researchers make their findings public, much as the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in conjunction with the JSIF (Jamaica Social Investment Fund) will make their US$93,000 ($8.4 million) finding public (6) months from now, hopefully, the recommendations will be positive.

That is to say, Import Waivers will be put in place to allow the importation of Alternative Energy Gear along with other select items as per the recommendations of the study, enableing cheaper Alternative Energy equiptment to come to Jamaica so we can all eventually have the choice to disconnect from JPS Co and their overbilling like Mr. Paul Chong - without having to effectively pull out a second mortgage!

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