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Jamaica seeks solution to power theft problems

May 15, 2014

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaica’s government said Wednesday it will form a committee with the local power company to seek solutions to the widespread theft of electricity.

The joint committee was announced a day after political leaders expressed anger about the company’s decision to slash the number of hours that power is provided to entire communities where electricity theft is rampant.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who met with representatives of the Jamaica Public Service Co. on Wednesday, said the company has to find a way to deal with illegal connections without punishing customers who pay their bills.

“Legitimate customers cannot be forced to suffer for those who break the law,” she said in a statement.

According to Simpson Miller, company officials expressed regret at not letting the government know about its plans to cut power to several communities.

Senior utility official Gary Barrow has said the company was forced to cut hours that power is provided to neighborhoods where more than 70 percent of it is pilfered. He said the company has “tried everything” else to reduce theft.

But politicians said they believed the move violated the company’s license. The government has a 20 percent stake in the Jamaica Public Service Co., the sole power distributor on the island.

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