TONGA POWER UTILITY WANTS RATE INCREASE

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Nov. 1) –Tongan Member of Parliament Akilisi Pohiva says the cost of power in the kingdom could go up by 25 percent this month.

Mr Pohiva says Crown Prince Tupouto’a, chairman of Shoreline Power Co., the country’s sole electrical utility, has proposed that fees be increased to around 29 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour.

Mr Pohiva says the planned increase will hurt businesses as well as 80 percent of the households in the kingdom..

He says the increase is expected to be supported by that government committee that oversees such price rises.

The situation, Pohiva said, shows the need for competition in Tonga’s power industry.

"The problem is because of the involvement of the Crown Prince in that particular business, the members of the committee may not feel independent to make a decision, simply because of the fact it comes straight from the Crown Prince," Pohiva said. "They may feel intimidated and approve the suggestion that came from the Crown Prince."

November 2, 2004

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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