17 Jun 2008

Marshalls state of emergency possible over energy crisis

3:33 pm on 17 June 2008

The Marshall Islands national disaster committee has recommended that cabinet declare a state of emergency over the rise in energy costs when it meets this week.

The general manager of the Marshalls Energy Company, William F Roberts, says if fuel prices keep going up, they will put the majority of Marshallese back 40 years.

A report submitted by the board of directors of the two government utility companies to the government at the end of last week show they face an 18 million US dollar shortfall this year.

It also says that the Majuro and Ebeye island utilities are facing a July the 10th deadline for payment of 6.5 million dollars for the fuel delivered earlier this month.

In the face of repeated rate hikes by the utilities, power consumption has dropped off, and the utilities are now operating at a monthly deficit estimated at 1.5 million dollars.

If the Cabinet endorses the state of emergency, which is expected, government officials indicate that it will open the door for emergency funding and policy actions such as tax holidays for the utilities.