State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, has emphasised the importance of stemming expenditure on oil imports and energy usage, as if these high costs continue, the economy could “grind to a standstill."
Addressing the closing ceremony of a one-week Energy Management Training Programme for public sector officials, at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica in Kingston, Mr. Robinson pointed out that with a $1.2 billion monthly public sector energy bill, and US$2.25 billion being spent on oil imports, the country is not generating enough money to cover these costs.
"What we spend on oil exceeds everything that we export, including remittances. We are in an unsustainable path. We will not be able to afford to pay for the oil, if we continue on this path, because the economy is just not generating enough money. The second part of it is that our energy costs are just too high,” he stressed.
The State Minister pointed out that at 42 cents per kilowatt hour, Jamaica’s energy cost is six to seven times that of Trinidad and Tobago, for which Jamaica is a major market for its goods and services. This, he said, affects the country’s ability to compete effectively.
Mr. Robinson argued that money saved on energy usage and oil imports could instead be used to boost the economy. “We want to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in our public sector energy bill. Just imagine if every month the government could spend $360 million to purchase goods and services,” he said.
He said the public sector must lead by example in the thrust for lower oil and energy costs. “There are too many aspects of the public sector where we simply do not pay enough attention to how we manage our energy. You are going to be leaders, because hopefully you will go back and champion what you have gained here and treat it as your own,” he told the participants.
The energy management training programme, which involved participation from representatives of a number of government ministries, agencies and departments, was designed for officers within the government, who are responsible for energy management, as well as other professionals in the public sector who have direct responsibility for managing energy use as a part of their job function.
This was the third and final such training programme for 2012, at the end of which some 160 persons throughout the public sector would have benefitted.
The programme examined: the importance of energy conservation to national development; the main elements of the national energy policy; the core elements of Jamaica’s National Energy Conservation and Efficiency Policy 2009-2030; the impact that energy conservation and efficiency can have on the performance of ministries and agencies; and the officers’ role in managing the government’s energy assets and resources.
The participants were able to: evaluate their ministry’s or department’s energy use and effectively monitor and take necessary corrective action; conduct and prepare terms of reference for the conduct of an energy audit for a ministry/department/agency; prepare an energy conservation plan; and appreciate the role that officers in ministries, agencies and departments play in reducing overall government expenditures.