– PM Hinds tells Guyanese
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds wants any Guyanese who feels that the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) is burdening them, to start generating their own electricity since they have a right to do so as is provided in the Laws of Guyana.
That is according to a Government Information Agency (GINA) report. On Friday last the Prime Minister made an appearance on a programme on the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) and sought to rubbish the concerns of the Opposition about the efficiency of the power company and the costs consumers have to pay for their power supply.
Hinds lashed out at A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) General Secretary, Joseph Harmon who was reported in the media saying that GPL needs to seek ways to reduce its tariff and “get off the backs of Guyanese”.
Harmon had commented on the admission of GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bharat Dindyal that the power company is losing millions annually as a result of private operators utilizing its infrastructure (utility poles) without paying a dime.
The APNU politician chided the power company; saying that GPL has always been about looking to raise its tariffs “to get money off the backs of Guyanese people.” The electricity company, he posited, could look for other ways to raise money which could take the heat off the company; not requiring them passing the expense off on the Guyanese people.
Appearing on national television the day after the article was published, the Prime Minister said “that kind of talk is the basis for many of our Guyanese citizens feeling that they have a right to steal electricity. From the very high to the low, Guyanese have been responding to those kinds of talks and it shouldn’t be.”
The Prime Minister pointed out that the government has over the years been working to shift from diesel to fuel oil which brings down the generation cost to about 20 cents. “The cost for generation runs at 30 to 40 cents per kilowatt per hour, and this is diesel based,” GINA reported the Prime Minister saying.
“I don’t think you can get more than that. When we wrote the Electrification Sector Act, we particularly put in there that everyone has the right to self generate, and you find that when the people are put to the test, they can’t do very much better than the rate that they are receiving,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister claimed that the company has “always been seeking ways in which it can reduce tariffs and one of such intervention is the use of heavy fuel oil.”
“Mr. Harmon should be the last person to be talking about our electricity prices… if we had gone to Amaila (hydropower project), we would be having generation cost which will be averaging in the order of 10 cents per kilowatt per hour rather than 22 cents per kilowatt per hour, and we would have been able to halve our generation cost. The other thing he should be doing is to call on the people to end the theft of electricity,” the Prime Minister stated.
But GPL has been receiving hefty subsidies in the national budget while its rates remain high. In fact, when Budget 2014 was being presented to the National Assembly in March, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh said that the allocated $3.7B was in order to ensure that the company can meet its investment and operational obligations.
Added to the costs, consumers continue to complain bitterly about the constant power outages that have been plaguing areas across the country despite of the billions poured into the company to ensure its modernisation.
Harmon had said, “When you look at the way they are spending money given by Parliament, we (APNU) are not satisfied that GPL has a plan for the long term development of the company.”
The Member of Parliament told Kaieteur News that in the past, when his party examined the modus operandi of the power company, calls were made for certain documents to be produced and “some have been, but some have not.”
Harmon said “If we have better management in GPL, we could have a better run company that would redound to Guyanese electricity consumers.”
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