Among some of the concerns raised by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Bishop Juan Edghill during his debate in the National Assembly for Budget 2019 on Wednesday was the Administration’s handling of the affairs at the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
Chief among his questions into the lack of transparency at the company is the absence of a Board of Directors.
According to Edghill, the Government had revealed back in January of 2018 that there was no Chairman of the Board and as such questions arose as to the management of the tender process for the large sums allocated in the budget to GPL.
It was revealed by the MP that with the absence of a Chairman, it is the responsibility of the Infrastructure Minister who, he said, at this time is not being transparent.
“The Minister must tell this house why since January of 2018 there is no Chairman of the Board. I have called myself to enquire who is managing the tender process for the large sums given to GPL…without a board, it is the responsibility of the Minister, if he is taking the place of the Board we have to ask where is the accountability and transparency…?” Edghill questioned.
Further, Edghill touched on the ongoing power disruption at Kwakwani, Upper Demerara-Berbice, where the community has been experiencing frequent blackouts, forcing residents to take to the streets protesting same.
The residents had been enduring more than eight hours of power outages per day for a three months period; this also affected their water supply.
Edghill noted that some $300M per year is allocated for the community to be supplied with 24h electricity.
“Now all they have is electricity up to a point, I recall when I was there for [Local Government Elections] LGE campaigning, the electricity came off from 3 until 11 at night…where is the money going which is supposed to ensure that these people have their electricity” the MP further questioned.
Additionally, Linden which has also been experiencing constant blackouts was another area addressed by Edghill.
“$2.2B for community power in Linden and there is black out from 3 to 10 each night…this is one of the most mismanaged systems” said Edghill.
According to Opposition MP, while Guyanese are hearing about all of the investments in electricity for 2019, Government is still depending heavily on fossil fuel.
This he noted could have all been rectified if the Amaila Falls Hydro project had not been “killed” by the incumbent Administration when they were in Opposition.
Edghill reiterated that the project was a long-term solution to Guyana’s energy requirement in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.
“By today we would have been enjoying power from Amaila Falls, we would have been enjoying it at much less or far less the cost that consumers are paying today”.
The MP stated that Guyana needs a developmental model that will see energy being urgently addressed.
“GPL losses keeps going up, it’s at 29.65 currently…they are now talking about wind farm and solar…this country needs a developmental model that will see our energy needs being addressed…they went to the IDB who presented the energy mix matrix, yet it has still not been brought to this House, why are you hiding it?” Edghill lambasted.