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Former Minister of Public Infrastructure in the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government and Member of Parliament (MP), David Patterson, has flayed government’s management of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), accusing them of not having a plan in the wake of frequent blackouts.
Drawing comparison of the management of the sector between the People’s Progressive Party government and the APNU+AFC, in an earlier missive, Patterson stated “under the coalition administration, nine new generating sets totaling 63MW were purchased (Anna Regina – 5.4MW, Bartica – 3.4MW, Bellevue – 1.5MW, Canefield – 5.5MW, and Garden of Eden (five sets) – 46.5MW).”
Further, according to him, “in 2015 the generating capacity of GPL was listed at 120 – 125MW, which means that in five short years, the coalition’s work increased the generating capacity of the company by 50%. Never in the history of the company has it enjoyed such a huge increase in generating capacity in such a short period.”
And “even more impressive,” according to the former minister, was “that this increase was financed without any external loans. Under the PPP between 2007 and 2014, US$155M in loans were taken on behalf of GPL. This entire amount was mismanaged due to a lack of vision and corruption, resulting in the broken system pre-2015. On average, US$22M per year in loans was given to GPL during this period, yet our power sector was on life support in 2015.”
GPL was also able to reduce its technical and commercial line losses by 5%, which resulted in annual savings of G$450M, said the MP.
Prime Minister Mark Phillips, who has responsibility for the sector, fired back but not to debunk the coalition’s achievements and plans identified by Patterson. The prime minister, according to the DPI’s story, stated the government does have a plan and has “approved the GPL Development and Expansion Plans for the years 2021 to 2025 and 2022 to 2026, which are publicly available on GPL’s website.”
He accused the APNU+AFC government of failing “to approve and publish the statutory Development and Expansion Plans for years 2017-2021, 2018-2022, 2019- 2023, and 2020 -2024, and only approved the plan for the year 2016-2020.” The responses, however, stayed clear of debunking information provided by Patterson as proof of better management of the sector by the coalition.
Phillips also attributed the coalition’s better management to fall in global fuel prices in 2015 and 2016. On the issue of the Patterson stating they managed GPL “without any external loan, ” Phillips rubbished the statement, stating “loans related to the IDB-funded PUUP project were from an external source.”
According to the prime minister when the PPP returned to government in 2020 “GPL’s loans had increased by more than G$21 billion, which was an increase of 65 per cent” and government’s receivables has increased by more than $10 billion, “due to the APNU administration not ensuring the timely and full payment of its government’s electricity bills.”
Addressing the issues of loans, Patterson also did say “Under the PPP between 2007 and 2014, US$155M in loans were taken on behalf of GPL. This entire amount was mismanaged due to a lack of vision and corruption, resulting in the broken system pre-2015. On average, US$22M per year in loans was given to Guyana Power and Light (GPL) during this period, yet our power sector was on life support in 2015.”
Vouching for his performance record as Minister of Public Infrastructure Patterson reported: “Not only was GPL able to increase their generating capacity by 50% in 5 years, but they started repaying the interest on these loans. Commencing in 2015, GPL started to repay the people of Guyana US$5M per year towards this massive debt, and were still able to advance their work program – that’s what having a sound and workable plan should be.”