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FTC dismisses motion to adjourn


Shawn Cumberbatch

FTC dismisses motion to adjourn
A re-submission of a motion to adjourn from Acting Public Counsel Sharon Deane (centre) was dismissed by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) panel presiding over the public hearings into the Barbados Light & Power Company’s (BL&PC) application for a rate increase on Thursday at the Accra Hotel & Spa - FP

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The Fair Trading Commission dismissed an attempt to adjourn the electricity rate hearing, with the proceedings scheduled to resume on Thursday.

When the hearing started on Wednesday at the Accra Beach Hotel, the Barbados Associtation of Retired Persons (BARP), represented by the Office of Public Counsel, argued that it needed more time to prepare its intervention against the Barbados Light & Power Company Limited’s (BL&PC) rate application.

This was because acting Public Counsel Sharon Deane only officially started duties on Monday.

But following a lengthy adjournment to deliberate, chairman of the rate hearing panel, FTC deputy chairman Dr Donley Carrington said the regulator “is of the view that it would be just to exercise its discretion to refuse the motion of the Office of Public Council and BARP for the adjournment of this hearing, and the motions are so dismissed”.

“There has been nothing presented to support the statements made by Miss Deane in relation to its inability to perform the duties of Public Counsel,” he said.

Deane argued in her submission that for her office to carry out its statutory duties properly, “the only fair, just, and reasonable approach would be to allow us the adjournment”.

“It is absolutely necessary that Public Counsel be provided with an adjournment and extension of time to ensure that documents are properly perused and that the job can be properly done,” she said.

BL&PC, via its lead counsel Ramond Alleyne of the law firm, Clarke Gittens & Farmer, opposed the motion.

“There is significant data before the Commission to suggest that it is ready, able, and that no party or member of public of Barbados will be disadvantaged by a hearing if it was to continue… and we strenuously object to the requested adjournment,” he said.

“It will result in delays, costs, and a failing of the Commission to meet his statutory duty, and the context of all of those factors which affect reasonableness.”

The rate hearing is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday, with a number of motions to be adjudicated, including a submission from co-intervenors attorney Tricia Watson and chartered accountant David Simpson for BL&PC to amend its rate application in light of the FTC decision on depreciation.