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Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, has emphasized the need for consumers to use the world’s resources responsibly in order to minimize the risks associated with the wanton depletion of sources of energy.
Senator Whiteman, who was speaking at a media breakfast hosted by the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel this morning (March 15), to mark World Consumer Rights Day, noted that the wanton use of energy could jeopardize supplies for future generations.
In his presentation, Senator Whiteman made reference to the recently published Green Paper on Energy Policy, which deals with energy conservation, the diversification of the energy base, efficiency in energy use and production, and the reduction of adverse environmental effects from the use of fossil fuels.
He pointed out that while it was important to recognize the measures being put in place to give substance to the goals of the Energy Policy, “we (consumers) must constantly review the measures and their implementation to ensure that they are meeting the objectives and be prepared to call for a review of them where necessary.”
The Information Minister also highlighted the need for consumers to welcome the initiative of the National Housing Trust in facilitating the provision of solar heating systems in new housing developments and the opportunities for assistance with the retrofitting of existing dwellings. This initiative, he pointed out, promoted energy conservation and efficiency.
“But equally, as consumers, we must ensure that duty concessions applying to energy saving products are passed on to the purchaser,” the Minister added.
Senator Whiteman asserted that at the international level, Consumer International could be used as an avenue to advocate for sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, working to targets, which were in line with principles of global equity.
Meanwhile, the Information Minister lauded the government’s efforts to provide Jamaicans with access to electricity, especially those living in remote areas.
“The records will show that in the 1970s only some 50 per cent of the population had access to electricity and today, more than 92 per cent of our citizens have access,” the Minister informed.
According to the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2002, there was a 28.8 per cent increase in the proportion of the population using electricity for lighting purposes over the last ten years, and a 67 per cent decline in the size of the population using kerosene over the same period.
The report, he pointed out, said electricity was used by 94.3 per cent of the households in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) with a similarly high level of access for households in other towns being 92.4 per cent and 80.9 per cent for rural areas.
“The Rural Electrification Programme has been one of the outstanding successes of Jamaica and is one of the rich legacies of the 1970s when national consciousness and community development walked hand in hand,” Senator Whiteman outlined.
“We commend the originators of the concept, the pioneers in the organization and those who today continue to bring light and power into the remote corners of our country,” the Minister said. World Consumer Rights Day was observed under the theme: ‘Energy: Sustainable Access for All Consumers.’