6,000 solar systems for State House to become political football in Amerindian communities

Last Updated on Friday, 1 July 2016, 9:51 by Denis Chabrol

The installation of about 6,000 solar panel systems at State House, the President’s Official Residence, is set to become a political football match between the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) and the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition-led administration.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said most of the GYD$48.6 million was spent on the purchase and installation of the solar panel systems to power the buildings at the State House Complex. “The intention is to make State House totally green and it is the intention to set the standard for the country with this type of facility,” he told the House’s Committee of Supply that met to approve monies that were spent on projects and activities that the government had deemed urgent.

PPP front-bencher, Gail Teixeira sought to link 6,000 solar panel systems that had been scheduled for acquisition mainly for the Amerindian communities to the solar panel systems for State House. Party back-bencher, Charles Ramson queried when solar panels would be distributed to the wider Guyanese population, to which Harmon responded by saying that he could not speak about government’s energy policy.

The Minister of State said the 6,000 solar panels were in the custody of the Ministry of the Presidency but he could not say whether they were installed or not, the wattage and whether they would be used for standby electricity supply.

Teixeira then heckled “We will let the Amerindian communities know that…” to which Harmon retorted “and then we will answer you properly.”

The PPP had campaigned heavily in Amerindian communities for the 2015 general and regional elections, a move some observers had been aimed at compensating for a loss of support from among its East Indian supporters.

Ramson  asked whether a member of the opposition could be invited to visit State House to look at the solar panels. However, Harmon said it was impossible for him to do so. “I am not in a position to invite anyone” to the President’s Residence.

Monies were also spent on rehabilitating the almost 100-year old wooden State House.