Dindyal suspects a political agenda from opposition’s position on tariff hike – GPL, PSC, FITUG meet President

Georgetown, GINA, June 13, 2013

Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Bharrat Dindyal said the political opposition appears to have misunderstood the power company’s intentions, but suspects that recent reactions to the proposed tariff hike is part of an agenda.

The opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) recently spoke out against the proposed 26.7 percent tariff hike, warning that the implications to the country’s future will be daunting and discrediting the fact that their own action in the National Assembly was what promoted the power company’s decision.

President Donald Ramotar, Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh and Presidential Adviser on Governance Gail Teixeira in talks with officials of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and the Private Sector Commission (PSC)

Dindyal who joined members of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) at a meeting with President Donald Ramotar today, said he was informed by the Head of State that all the relevant information on the power company’s plans have been made available to the opposition.

The cut of the company’s $5.2B subsidy this year has put on hold a number of projects that are geared towards improving efficiency and service quality. Among them is the 26- megawatt plant at Vreed-en-Hoop which requires foundation works, equipment awaiting shipment from Finland and substations under the Chinese infrastructure development projects.

“We have done three substations; there are another three to be completed in another month and a half, these are stuck. There are two others at Golden Grove and Columbia where the foundation works are complete and equipment is about to be installed…,” Dindyal said.

The aforementioned projects including the frequency conversion of the Wartsila Kingston plant and about eight others pending are intended to address technical and commercial losses, according to the company’s CEO.

The power company announced on June 8 that the option to increase tariff is premised on the need to raise revenue so that the company can remain financially viable.

GPL stated that it will require at least $90M of investments within the next five years, for it to make substantial reductions in technical and commercial losses, and continues to bemoan the impact of fuel prices.

The new rates have not taken effect, but GPL’s Board is actively engaged in planning its implementation, having submitted its Final Return Certificate (FRC) to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Dindyal said he is fully aware of the “significant impact” the hike would have on every Guyanese, but it appears to be the only recourse if the $5.2B subsidy is not restored.

“These loans at concessionary terms (are) coming through the Government to GPL which GPL has to repay. If these loans are not reinstated, we have no option. We can’t stop these projects where they are. They have to be completed, and if they have to be completed unfortunately the only other option we have is to raise the tariffs to garner the funds to complete them,” Dindyal explained in an invited comment to the Government Information Agency (GINA).

FITUG had shared a similar position on the restoration of the cuts and fears that a tariff hike of that scale will create additional hardships on workers.

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