Statement of His Excellency Brigadier David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at the swearing in ceremony of members of the Public Utilities Commission May 8, 2019.

The Public Utilities Commission: Guardian of the Public Interest

The Public Utilities Commission is the guardian of the public interest.   It has the responsibility to ensure that public utility services are delivered to the people in a manner that is “safe, adequate, efficient, reasonable and non-discriminatory.” The Commission, in so doing, is tasked with ensuring that the public utility laws are upheld.

Electricity powers homes, industry, offices and schools; telecommunication services allow citizens to communicate with each other; transportation moves people and goods and water is necessary for life and human activity.

Public utility services are provided, usually, to large sections of a population across networks.  They are necessary to ensure a high quality of life for our citizens. It improves production and productivity and promotes national integration.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is committed to ensuring that citizens can have easy access to public services and to public utility services. The country’s relatively large size, low population density and numerous small, isolated hinterland and riverine communities increase the costs, reliability and quality of such services.

Government has been decentralizing access to public services through its policies of regionalization and local democracy. Capital towns – at Bartica, Mabaruma, Mahdia and Lethem – have been established in our hinterland regions in order to boost their development and to ensure that public services, including public utilities, are delivered to the people.

Local government elections – held twice in three years – are part of the renewal of local democracy aimed at electing leaders and councils to make decisions and take actions to improve public services within their communities.

Government is investing in improving public utility services. Wells are being drilled in remote communities to provide water. Internet access is being expanded across the country to improve communication. Un-served communities are being linked to the national electricity grid and other communities are being provided with solar-generated electricity. Public infrastructure – aerodromes, bridges, roads and stellings – are being extended and upgraded to improve transportation.

Public utilities – including electricity, sanitation, telecommunications, transportation and water – are essential services to which citizens are entitled.  Government’s expressed policy is to ensure that citizens enjoy greater access to adequate, reliable and quality public services and public utility services.

Public utilities, because of their essential character and the desirability of universal coverage, must be regulated in the public interest which, in so far as public utility services are concerned, is three-fold:

  • first, to ensure that, as far as possible, public utility services are accessible, adequate and provided on a non-discriminatory basis;
  • second, that costs, fees and tariffs associated with their provision or sale are reasonable; and
  • third, that these services are regular, reliable, efficient and safe.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Commission, in accordance with the Public Utilities Commission Act 2016, is tasked with regulatory, investigative, enforcement and other functions conferred by the Act and other public utility laws.

The Commission, under Section 24 of the ‘Act’, is vested with the power “…to initiate and conduct investigations into the operations and standards of service of any public utility and telecommunications undertaking.”

The work of the Public Utility Commission, therefore, is vital to protecting the public interest by ensuring the delivery of public services. Electricity, sanitation, telecommunications, transportation and water are essential services which are necessary for citizens’ welfare and the growth and efficiency of economic sectors.

Government expects that the Commission will continue to ensure that citizens’ welfare will be continuously enhanced through the provision and delivery of public utility services.

It is my duty and honour to congratulate the members of the Commission who have just taken the oath of office. I wish them every success during their tenure as members of the Public Utilities Commission.

I thank you.