COVID-19: JPS pledges $45m and promises flexi-payment schedule
Jamaica Public Service (JPS) has pledged to contribute $45 million to the effort to help Jamaica offset the effects of the coronavirus(COVID-19) pandemic.
According to officials of the company in a digital briefing on Saturday morning, JPS will be implementing a number of measures and also making recommendations to the Government to help Jamaicans cope during the period of challenges with the virus.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Emanuel DaRosa, said the $45 million is to be used for a variety of projects, with the company working with senior citizens, the disabled and customers having challenges through its various local offices.
He said the company is looking to support the country’s health and economic structures, and along with shareholder Korean East-West Power, will be bringing to Jamaica some of the most advanced COVID-19 testing kits.
He further said the instruments would be able to provide results within hours, unlike those being currently used. DaRosa said the kits have already been purchased, and are expected to arrive on the island within the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Senior Vice President of Customer Service, Ramsay McDonald, said regular JPS customers, both residential and commercial, who are facing difficulties because of COVID-19, will be facilitated with terms being worked out on payment schedules for billing.
“We are committed to allowing you to contact us and work with you in terms of your payment terms. We are looking to give you more flexible payment terms as we work through this very trying time, but we can’t do this alone,” said McDonald.
“We need you to play your part. We need you to meet us half the way in terms of what we are doing, and so we encourage you to make your payment as best as possible, but recognised that we are here to assist,” he said.
He added that the company will keep the line of communication open through various social media platforms.
McDonald also said the company has drafted a plan to limit the number of outages, which are only to be done for critical maintenance work, with each having a maximum six-hour duration.
“This is to ensure that you will have safe and reliable power throughout this period, as we recognised that more of our customers are at home, working from home, online schooling and the likes that are going on right now, and we want to ensure that you have an enjoyable time while at home.”
According to Chief Financial Officer, Vernon Douglas, the current focus of the company is to provide smooth and sustainable electricity while meeting its obligations to lenders and vendors and ensuring its staff and contractors work safely.
He said JPS has recommended to the Government that GCT be removed from bills for 90 days, while also removing the special consumption tax (SCT) on fuel for the production of electricity, and the provision of foreign exchange to JPS to procure the necessary fuel for the production of electricity.
“These initiatives primarily will contribute significantly in reducing the cost of electricity at this time, and we know that together we can work to bring the necessary confidence and the necessary resilience to the economy, to you our customers at this time, and we are pushing hard and collaborating hard, to make sure that we have sustainable power, knowing at this time, you our customers are challenged.”