Jun 11, 2013 News
…concedes GPL tariff increase will place additional burden on Guyanese
Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, yesterday refused to disclose any concerns that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) may hold, regarding the construction of the US$840M Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project.
The Finance Minister was at the time addressing members of the media at the party’s weekly press engagement at Freedom House. He said that the due diligence being conducted by the IDB is at an advanced stage. IDB is investing US$175M.
“I wouldn’t want to pre-empt the conclusion of the work by saying what the concerns are,” according to Dr Singh, but he did disclose that all of the partners have been collaborating.
He said that each of the institutions involved would have its review processes that are ongoing; each of the hurdles met thus far have been overcome.
“The major international partners are at an advanced stage of due diligence….once complete we should see the project approved.”
Dr Singh said that he would not want to be tied to a date for financial closure, only to say that progress is being made.
The Finance Minister said that while the process is yet to be completed, the current financial crisis facing the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), that prompted an application for a tariff increase, has served to emphasise the need for the completion of the 165MW Hydro Power Plant.
Dr Singh, supported by Junior Finance Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill and the party’s Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, all of whom addressed the issue of the tariff increase, said that the blame should lie squarely at the feet of the Combined Opposition.
Executive Secretary of the party, Mustapha, said, “The party is very concerned at the recent application by GPL to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the approval of a 26.7 per cent increase.”
He said that the party would lay the blame squarely at the feet of the political opposition given that the subsidy was meant to stave off precisely such an increase.
Substantive Minister, Dr Singh, when asked about the affordability of the Guyanese consumer to pay an increased tariff, should it be approved, said that it will ultimately rest with the individual household and their need to prioritise their spending.
The Finance Minister said, should the GPL tariff be increased, “at an individual level, a person will have to decide whether he “can afford to buy one thing or another or pay for one thing rather than another…it’s really a determination of what that person consider to be more important from among competing demands.”
He said that the “reality is that this (tariff increase) does impose an additional burden on the Guyanese consumer.”
Asked why the government did not approach the National Assembly to have the money restored prior to the proposed application for a tariff hike, Dr Singh said, the matter is under consideration.
Dr Singh used the occasion instead, to lament what he called an opposition smokescreen and asked why if all of the questions were initially answered; they cut the subsidy in the first place?
“The circumstances are well known to Guyanese people; we have said that we would like to improve the reliability of the grid and would like to improve affordability, in fact that is the genesis of the commitment to the Amaila Falls Project.”
He said that while the administration has been pushing to get the Amaila Falls Project, on stream the administration has been looking to ensure that the power company is equipped to meet the needs of the national grid. “We have invested in upgrading the generation capability.”
GPL’s most recent increase to its tariff structure was in December 2007. From then to now fuel prices have skyrocketed with GPL absorbing the higher cost, according to Dr Singh.
“The reality is that GPL was a company in financial distress anyhow…GPL has been carrying a fuel bill that has grown phenomenally without increasing its bill…GPL was facing financial challenges even before the cut was imposed, the cuts exacerbated the situation.”
He said, too, that while it was unwelcomed news, it should be surprising that GPL finds itself in a situation where its finances can’t sustain the company’s operations, hence the need to increase its tariff.
Sep 23, 2021South American Junior C/Ship set for October 16 & 17 Kaieteur News – Athletics Guyana (AG) has confirmed that the National Youth & Junior Championship will run off as scheduled this...
By Sir Ronald Sanders The public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has rightly focused the attention and... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]