Feb 23, 2016 News
Chairman of the Board of Directors for Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), Robert Badal, has confirmed
the sacking of Colin Welch, the Chief Executive Officer (acting).
Welch was appointed to act as the company’s head six months ago, but his tenure was rocky, with several clashes with Management.
He was fingered, via a number of leaked texts and Skype messages, in an attempt to tamper with an $800M contract to buy prepaid meters from a Chinese contractor.
There were questions also about his qualifications and whether he was a Harvard graduate.
Following the appointment of a new Board of Directors for GPL last month, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, who is charged with responsibilities for the electricity sector, made it clear that issues and questions of Welch would be dealt with.
Responding to queries last evening, Badal, in confirming that GPL has decided to end its relations with Welch, said that applications for the CEO’s position will now be entertained, and the aim is to attract a competent and dynamic replacement to lead the GPL team.
Welch reportedly left last week for Asia, with senior management saying they had little idea why he went there.
Last week, senior management officials reportedly met Badal and a team regarding a number of complaints.
With regard to the future of GPL, Badal, a businessman who owns Pegasus Hotel and Guyana Stockfeeds Limited, said that the executive management team has been directed to update its five-year strategic plan which would soon be posted on its website and shared with the nation.
“This plan focuses on significantly reducing the company’s technical and non-technical losses with investments to improve the transmission and distribution infrastructure of GPL, in addition to expanding its generating capacity.”
Badal made it clear last evening that the President’s vision of a clean, green economy would be central to the plan, with emphasis on a more diversified matrix of power supply, including solar, wind, hydro and other renewables.
“GPL would seek to improve its customer service with shorter response times to customers’ queries, reduce blackouts, by replacing old, inefficient equipment and systems and investments in effective technology in the area of billing and managing customer accounts.”
According to the new Chairman, electricity tariffs are currently being reviewed to lower current rates.
“Progress never comes without hard work and the management and staff are fully dedicated and committed to delivering a highly improved electricity supply at a lower cost.”
Corruption watchdog body, Transparency Institute Guyana Inc., had criticized the new administration over its handling of allegations of wrongdoing by Welch.
Welch was appointed as CEO (Ag) of the company in August, following the sudden, stormy departure of long-serving Bharat Dindyal.
With regards to the text messages and the allegations of contract tampering, Welch had categorically denied the purported texts, saying they were falsely created and that he had been framed. He said that the people who created the chat site spelt his name incorrectly; they used a computer that was not connected to him in any way.
The texts which were denied by Welch had suggested that he had asked the supplier to lie to authorities in Guyana about the specifications.
The leaked messages were sent to a number of top Government officials, including Minister Patterson and GPL management.
Welch was brought in to GPL under the previous administration, as a Deputy CEO but his post was never advertised.
GPL handles billions of dollars annually but has been struggling with electricity thefts, technical losses and aging equipment, despite being able to add new generators.
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