FEA security deposit promise fails

02/04/2012 14:39

THE Consumer Council is disappointed that Fiji Electricity Authority has deviated from the time line it promised to consumers to pay their security deposit. FEA had staggered and extended the payment of security deposit from the initial 3 months to 6 months. 

However, consumers’ were in for surprise when they received their February electricity bill which is much bigger because of a delay in the charging of consumer security deposit for the month of January. This delay was from FEA’s side and not the consumer. Hence, why should the consumer be burdened to clear 2 months of security deposit at once?

The whole purpose of spreading security deposit payment over 6 month’s time was to relieve consumers from financial hardships especially with the increase in electricity tariffs. Doubling up 2 months security deposit into one bill is certainly not reflecting the aim of the extension given for security deposit payments.

FEA had promised to stagger the security deposit to ease the burden on consumers. Consumers had budgeted their household utility bills accordingly and for the Authority to renege on its promise is unfair and again evidence of the unchecked powers of a monopoly holder.

FEA’s push for consumers to clear the security deposit is also questionable. If FEA did not increase the security deposit in the last 2 decades then why is it rushing now? Consumers should be given at least 12 months to gradually pay the security deposit.

The Authority should show some leniency here and only charge security deposit for the month due.  The Authority through a public notice has advised consumers that their electricity bills for either February or March has security deposit charged twice.

FEA implemented this decision without consulting consumers. The Council feels it is unfair to dump 2 months’ security deposit into one bill. A better option would be to extend the payment period to 7 months. Another option for FEA to consider would be to forgo the April security deposit and start charging from May.

The Authority should be mindful of the hardship faced by majority of the population particularly those living in the western region who have been severely affected due to recent flooding.