CSO blames Covid for inability to provide RIC with data needed

Home*Cover Story*News

CSO blames Covid for inability to provide RIC with data needed

The COVID-19 pandemic is said to be the reason why the Central Statistical Office (CSO) was unable to provide the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) with the data it needed during the commission’s review of the proposed rate increases for electricity.

In a document called the Regulation of Electricity Transmission and Distribution 2023-2027, and under the heading Impact on Household Expenditure and Welfare, the RIC said it sought to consider the impact of an electricity rate increase on household expenditure.

However, in the document the RIC admitted, “the RIC has not considered the broader impact on inflation as data to conduct this analysis was not available when this document was being prepared. The RIC requested the latest available data on average monthly household expenditure from the Central Statistical Office. The CSO indicated that their latest available data was from their 2008/2009 Household Budgetary Survey (HBS).”

The RIC said it, “remained within the United Nations guidelines on the percentage of income that should be spent on utilities. In each case, the RIC has attempted to set rates which would not represent more than 10 per cent of average monthly household expenditure. For instance, based on a current monthly average consumption of 627kWh, the total bill will be $234.30 of household income of $7,223.40 or 3.3 per cent of average monthly household expenditure.”

Assistant director of Statistics of the CSO Andre Blanchard, in a GML interview, said the pandemic delayed the latest HBS.
He said: “Normally we carry out a household budget survey every ten years, that’s pretty standard, it’s a pretty expensive survey. We were about to undertake a new survey in April of 2020 and then COVID happened so we were forced to stop the survey.

“When the restrictions had eased, we consulted with IMF experts and they advised us to hold off on the household budget survey until expenditure patterns normalise because you can imagine with all the restrictions and the lay-offs, expenditure patterns were grossly distorted.”

Blanchard revealed that the new HBS survey will begin on January 15.