The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) is calling on Solomon Power to work together with the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification to approve an immediate reduction in electricity tariffs in the domestic, commercial and industrial segments.
This comes after recent private sector consultations with SICCI members revealed that the cost of electricity is one of the biggest challenges that all businesses have raised serious concern towards and would like addressed as a high priority.
This concern with electricity costs was further reinforced at the recent 11th Australian Solomon Islands Business Forum, which was hosted in Honiara in September 2019, as a key impediment to growth and development in the Solomon Islands.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Chamber, Ms Atenasi Ata said that this call was driven by the sad reality faced by majority of the nation being unable to afford electricity, contributing to a further demise in the quality of life, economy and living standards for both ordinary citizen and local business owners alike.
“A letter was submitted to the Board of Solomon Power and the Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification where we highlighted that electricity tariffs in the Solomon Islands are one of the highest in the world at ~US79c/kWh, being at least 30% higher than neighbouring Pacific countries,” CEO Ata said.
Ms Ata said the high electricity costs are a hindrance to our communities’ survival.
“We know that the entity´s prime objective is to be as profitable as possible, however, according to the SOE Act, it is also tasked to exhibit a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interest of the community through making electricity affordable.
‘It is evident that Solomon Power are prioritizing profits over the people and businesses of Solomon Islands, which is ultimately self-defeating given how much high electricity prices are hurting the economy,” she said.
The SICCI CEO added that it is also of great concern that the company has built significant cash reserves and is still claiming to be unable to provide any relief to the people and making it more difficult to source alternative sources of power.
“We feel that Solomon Power’s actions to date in this regard have fallen short of community particularly business-consumer expectations.
“Yes, the Government funded Tina River Hydro Power Project to be commissioned in 2022 is expected to lower tariffs. The long timeframe, however, exceeds business and community tolerance levels,” she said.
The communication to Solomon Power also requests its participation post-immediate tariff reduction, in an analysis of the current tariff framework and compliance with the various regulations and legislations.
“We hope that with the proposed review being SICCI-led, the country could be assured its independence as well as transparency,” says CEO Ata.
SICCI is meeting with the Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Hon Bradley Tovosia this week on the matter.
SICCI is still seeking dialogue with the Board of Solomon Power.
– SICCI Media