December 3, 2021

Increase in demand for electricity

Increase in demand for electricity


In 1972 Fiji was already beginning to feel the demand for electricity and Minister for Finance Wesley Barrett told the House of Representatives that requests for power had risen dramatically.

An article published by The Fiji Times on February 16, 1972, stated that in the Lautoka and Nadi areas, the power demand had been increasing at a rate of nearly 30 per cent a year.

Mr Barrett moved that the Government guarantee a loan of about $3.82 million from the Asian Development Bank to the Fiji Electricity Authority (now known as Energy Fiji Ltd).

The loan was for 20 years at an interest rate of 7.5 per cent annually.

He said the purpose of the loan was to establish a central generating station for the western side of Viti Levu.

The Government wanted the FEA to go ahead as quickly as possible with rural electrification, he added.

He said power demand in the Western Division was expected to exceed the existing capacity by 1974.

“This would be a dangerous situation, and therefore, the Government and the FEA sought the assistance of a team from the Asian Development Bank to examine the problem and recommend ways of increasing our generation capacity,” Mr Barrett.

Construction of generating station was proposed at Vuda in Lautoka.

Interest

The Leader of the Opposition, Siddiq Koya, asked about provisions made by the authority to repay the loan, and why the interest was so high. Statutory authorities such as FEA were given large sums of public money, Mr Koya said.

“Perhaps the day has come when we should permit the Auditor-General to audit accounts of all statutory bodies as well,” he said.

The Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, said electrification of rural areas was continuing.

Works

The Government had been considering the establishment of an electricity section in the Public Works Department which could work with the FEA to supply rural areas, he said.

Replying to the debate, Mr Barrett said it was not possible to borrow money at a lower interest rate for a project such as the one planned.

“We do not enter lightly into these loans,” he said. “If we are going to continue to electrify the country, we are going to borrow more money.

It will run into many many millions.” He said the FEA had come in for criticism, but overall it was doing a good job.



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