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Public Infrastructure Minister clears air on sacking of GPL CEO

Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson holding up a document in the National Assembly that states the reasons for not renewing Bharrat Dindyal’s contract as GPL’s CEO.

With claims of ethnic cleansing being levelled against the government, particularly the Public Infrastructure Ministry for the firing of Guyana Power and Light (GPL) CEO Bharrat Dindyal, Infrastructure Minister David Patterson sought to set the record straight during his budget debate presentation Thursday August 20 insinuating that Dindyal was grossly overpaid for unsatisfactory work.

Patterson said that not only was Dindyal not recommended to service the electricity agency by the company’s board following the end of his contract, but his performance and attitude to the job was also questioned.

The GPL’s CEO was let go by government with immediate effect earlier this month after a video of an altercation between him and his Deputy CEO, Colin Welch surfaced.

The Minister after giving a breakdown of the former CEO’s salary said he got a monthly pay of over $6.1m and an annual salary of over $74m. Patterson said that despite all that money, the country was still plagued with “rampant blackout.”

The minister said he had no pleasure in defending himself or the government, but should the record not be set straight, the opposition would continue to misrepresent the information. He went on to explain that on December 22, 2014 a letter from GPL’s Board stated that they did not support the renewal of the Dindyal’s contract and in keeping with the code of governance,  passed the information to the shareholders for final consideration.

Patterson said that Dindyal was kept on the job through what was described as an understanding between the CEO and the former head of the power company. However, Patterson said the board went on to highlight that the CEO failed to respect the agency’s board, engaged in poor management, and acted in an autocratic and adhoc manner at a dysfunctional level of organization.

Patterson said GPL failed to cut its technical loses among others. Exposing that, he pulled out one of the GPL projects; the recently commissioned Vreed-en-Hoop power plant. Patterson said the incomplete project already stands at US$483m or $1.1b yet the fuel lines at the plant are not operational.

He went on to say that to date, fuel is still being trucked to the plant and is costing the country $10m per month for transportation. As at July this year, the company incurred a $90m cost in trucking fuel to the plant which was commissioned in February last.

Still on energy, Patterson reiterated Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s statement that it would be “criminal” to continue with the Amalia Falls project in its current state. He said that is why the government would continue talks with the Brazilians about exploiting Guyana’s hydro-power potential.

Former Junior Finance Minister Juan Edgill dismissed this notion in his speech, telling the country that it is “criminally dishonest” not to tell the country that it would be more expensive not to build the hydro plant. He said without Amalia, the country would incur fuel cost alone of $4b.

On another major project, Patterson commended his colleagues while in opposition for voting against the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project since as the new minister, he found that the former administration failed to tell the nation that the US$150m project would have jumped to over US$220m. He said that the government was able to negotiate a better deal with the Chinese contractor CHEC, for all the additional work to be done below the initial US$150m.