There are very little details about a new company that is supposed to manage the Wartsila power engines now that the contract with the previous operator has ended.
According to official records at the registry, the Power Producers and Distribution Inc. (PPDI) was formed last month but has two officials-—one director and one secretary.
The director is Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Balraj Balram. The Secretary and incorporator is attorney-at-law Ronald Burch-Smith.
On January 1, 2017, PPDI took over the operations of Wartsila, a Finnish company that has been here for two decades and which has, overtime, been maintaining almost 20 engines for the State-owned Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL).
Those engines produce a major part of the power that GPL uses along the coastlands.
The Coalition government, one year after taking power, last year, announced that it will not renew Wartsila’s maintenance contract.
Rather, a private company would be established that would take over the almost 100 employees that Wartsila had. It will also manage the engines.
It was the thinking of government and GPL that Wartsila was being paid too much.
Wartsila has not altogether left. It has a contract to manage a power production operation at the Skeldon Energy Inc., at the Skeldon estate, East Berbice.
Wartsila has also reportedly been retained to supply parts and few other services to GPL and PPDI.
There were very little details what PPDI would do as at January 1.
Its staffers have not met any representatives from a board of directors. The management has remained largely the same. As a matter of fact, on paper, there is no evidence that one exists.
GPL would be paying hundreds of millions annually to PPDI for the management of the engines.
According to official documents filed at the registry, on December 14, attorney-at-law Mark Waldron was engaged in the formation of PPDI, which has its offices at Wight’s Lane, the same offices as the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, where the Permanent Secretary is based. Waldron declared that the company had complied with regulations.
The documents said that the company has 100,000 ordinary shares worth $100 each.
It was stated that there are “no restrictions of share transfer” and that the company can have no fewer than one director and not more than six.
The company was incorporated on December 14.
According to legal officials, based on the documents filed in the Registry, it indeed seems a strange “formulation” for what was supposed to be a State-owned company.
“The fact that a lawyer is the incorporator and a Permanent Secretary with little or no experience in producing power are the principals and the shares in the control of the lawyer is indeed strange. It needs to be explained,” according to a legal official yesterday.
“If this was supposed to be a State-owned company, why has there been a delay in the issuance of the shares of the company? There are some questions to be answered.”
GPL has been facing a spate of blackouts within the last six months with the company denying it has to do with generation capacity.
Rather, the problems have to do with the aging transmission and distribution infrastructure.
GPL has been under pressure to reduce its technical and commercial losses with almost a third of its power being lost to theft and hardware efficiency problems.
GPL has been spending at least US$70M annually, at current prices, to buy fuel for its engines.
Wartsila’s operations in Guyana were the largest for the Finnish company in the region. They were brought here in the 90s by former President Cheddi Jagan with one plant built at Garden of Eden. Several more power plants have been built since then.
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