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GPL subsidy not necessary at this time

by Zena Henry

The government has not allocated any financial help to the struggling Guyana Power Light (GPL),stating that the usual subsidy the company receives is not necessary at this time.

Over the years GPL has received billions of dollars in subsidies from the old administration, but has been unable to significantly improve its service to citizens. Minister State, Joseph Harmon said Wednesday August 12 during his regular Cabinet press conference that the budget only caters for the remaining months of the year and will not see money going to the power company at this time.

“For this short period of time, it is our understanding that that subsidy was not necessary,” Harmon told media operatives. He explained that in the 2014 budget, the then opposition had argued that the GPL subsidy could not continue to be handed out in the way it was being done.

He charged that the opposition then, felt like money was being poured down a dark hole. He mentioned too that it was felt that GPL could not handle the finances and international agencies such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank offered reviews to strengthen their capabilities.

“We felt that in reviewing these things, this budget will take into consideration what is happening for the next couple of months.”

Minister of Tourism Cathy Hughes who joined the Cabinet briefing expressed that despite all the sums allocated to GPL annually, they have been unable to “significantly reduce its losses over the many years while receiving support.”

A challenge to the government from GPL, Hughes said, is that, “There is information available that several individuals and companies with massive electricity bills that have been allowed to have those bills wiped away or put to the side and yet we take to court an (ordinary) individual that steals electricity.”

While she said it is quite right to do so with persons who steal power, she indicated that the company should also seek its cash from the companies and other individuals who owe huge sums.

Hughes said a lot has to be done with GPL and suspects that after the reviews will detail what will happen in the coming year.

GPL received more than $2b in assistance in 2014 which took into account subsidies in the arrangement for pensioners.