Energy Minister says Sector Continues to Gain Attention from Investors

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Jamaica News: Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the energy sector continues to gain attention from investors.

Speaking to JIS News at the sixth annual Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) Director General’s stakeholders engagement breakfast, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on March 28, Mrs. Williams pointed out that the investments are for the long-term and will have far-reaching impact.

“There has been no slowing down (from investors) in the energy sector. Investors have to take a long-term view and are putting in significant infrastructure and they are looking at a 15- to 20-year kind of investment,” she said.

Mrs. Williams added that investors are taking into consideration the demands that will exist within the energy sector, as well as the regulatory environment, when they invest.

“Right now, we have a good regulatory environment in Jamaica. There is a lot of trust in the regulators, there is stability, and those are some of the factors that go into making investments, not necessarily the noise of the day,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Minister emphasised the importance of the OUR, noting that the services “we enjoy today in an orderly way at prices many of us can afford, might not have been possible without a regulator”.

“That independent arbiter ensures a level playing field among competitors,” she added.

Mrs. Williams pointed out that as a Government and people, there are high expectations for existing utility operators.

From the telecommunications companies, she expects there to be 100 per cent connectivity among Jamaicans.

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For the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), she expects the availability and affordability of the electricity supply, and for the National Water Commission (NWC), consistency and aggressive follow-up to the issue of no water in communities.

“There is much to do. Our vision is not just influenced by our local experience. We are all taking what we see elsewhere because we have access to social media and we know what is happening in other parts,” she said.

For his part, Director General of the OUR, Ansord Hewitt, said the vision for the utilities sector is one where they are always operational, reliable and predictable.

Plans for the telecommunications sector have included a review of the existing state of affairs where access to critical services such as the ambulance, fire brigade and the police are consolidated into one platform, rather than fragmented.

“We engaged consultants to do a study for us and we have had consultations with all stakeholders, and we looked at legislation we would need to put in place,” he said.

“In the end, we put together a final set of recommendations, which we presented to the Prime Minister a few months ago. He was enthusiastic about it and has indicated that he will give the necessary instructions to the relevant Ministers to get it on track,” Mr. Hewitt added.

It also includes plans to increase broadband Internet access across the island, to develop a single portal for all interaction with government, tax incentives for user equipment, the creation of sandboxes for innovators, and improving computer literacy.

Plans for the electricity sector include the roll-out of additional smart meters to allow for better analysis and identification of losses for the JPS.

For the National Water Commission, Mr. Hewitt said the entity, in 2018, tapped the private capital market for $15 billion without government guarantee, labelling the move a “good” development.

Designed to be an open forum, the event was designed to update stakeholders from the utilities sector, private interests, government and academia on the work that is to be undertaken by the OUR.


Source: JIS News

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