31 Aug 2006

Electricity prices in Fiji jump by 30 percent

9:30 am on 31 August 2006

A 30-percent increase in the cost of electricity in Fiji from September has sparked uproar among consumers.

The Fiji Electricity Authority says it has obtained Commerce Commission approval to put up the charges because of mounting losses caused by escalating diesel fuel bills.

The Fiji Retailers Association says the higher charges, coming after fuel price and interest rate increases, will kill new and struggling businesses.

The Sugar Cane Growers Council says the 30 percent increase will have a serious impact on all segments of the sugar industry and dramatically affect farmers who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Consumer Council of Fiji has called on the government to subsidise electricity supply to cushion the effect of price increases on consumers, who were hit by a 10 percent increase in the price of flour last week.

The Fiji Council of Social Services says the poor will be affected the most and the new charges will negate efforts to reduce poverty.

A housewife with five children is quoted as saying she turned to kerosene lamps last night and will stop sending the children to school.