Overdue electricity bills reach $167 million
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE government’s collectibles from overdue electricity bills stand at $167 million, said Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Ministers’ Office Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Mohammad Yasmin Hj Umar.
Of the $167 million in unpaid power bills, $124 million is owed by users in the residential sector, the minister said in a speech at the meeting of the 12th Legislative Council Session yesterday.
Negligent users in the commercial sector have unpaid bills totalling $43 million, he said.
The introduction of prepaid electricity metres in 2011 has helped the government slowly collect overdue bills from residential users.
The Department of Electrical Services replaced the old metres of 22,642 residential accounts with the new prepaid metres. These accounts owe the government a total of $59 million in overdue bills.
However, the government since last year has managed to collect $4.8 million by requiring negligent users to pay up in installments upon claiming their retirement funds, and salaries (for government personnel), the minister said. A portion of the amount was also collected by deducting the actual credit that negligent users can consume from their electricity recharge cards.
“Around 1,290 users are still using conventional metres. These conventional metres users still have overdue electrical bills of $7.9 million,” the minister said in response to a question by LegCo Member Yang Berhormat Orang Kaya Jaya Putera Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Taha Abd Rauf.
Efforts to install prepaid metres in homes will continue in full swing to reduce the amount of overdue electric bills. The installation is expected to be completed by end of June this year, the minister added.
Meanwhile, the minister said Brunei has the cheapest electrical tariff in his response to LegCo Member YB Hj Ramli Hj Lahit who said that electricity is expensive in the sultanate.
“Electricity in Brunei is only $6 per month for 0-600 kilowatt-hour (kWh) compared to neighbouring countries where users are charged $55 a month,” the minister said.
The minister also spoke about the impact of energy saving efforts implemented by the government.
The country saved $8 million last year as users consumed electricity at the middle and low level under the new electricity tariff, he said.
Brunei now has 86,880 electricity prepaid metre users. About a fourth of that or 21,015 consume 600 kWh and below per month.
The new electricity tariff, aimed at curbing energy usage was implemented in 2012.
Energy-saving efforts will be further enhanced with the introduction of the Standard and Labelling Order this year.
Electricity saving efforts have also been extended to government buildings with a target reduction of 30 per cent. The minister said this will reduce government’s spending by $26 million.
Other energy saving efforts include reducing the use of street lights nationwide which can save the country $1.6 million a year.
Under the Department of Electrical Services, the amount of electric disruptions has decreased 58 per cent from 300 disruptions in 2010 to 126 last year.
The minister said the decrease can be attributed to the repair and maintenance works done on power generation, transmission and distribution nationwide.
The minister added that a request of $9.5 million had been made as ‘special expenses’ to carry out projects and activities that will have a major impact on ensuring continued supply of electricity.
“This includes maintenance work on eight gas turbines, recruitment of technical experts and advisers as well as upgrading low-voltage distribution system across the country,” he said.
The Brunei Times