Finance Minister says low oil price$$ benefited ‘troublemaker’ GPL; Jagdeo says customers never felt it

Last Updated on Monday, 19 December 2016, 20:36 by Derwayne Wills

Finance Minister Winston Jordan surrounded by his team at today’s press conference

The Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) continues to be, in the words of Prime Minister Nagamootoo “a black hole,” according to Finance Minister Winston Jordan who was asked today to account for the performance of state agencies during his 2016 review.

Turning his attention to the Guyana Power & Light Inc (GPL), which continues to be a thorn in the side of Guyanese who are fed up with frequent and often unexplained blackouts, Minister Jordan referred to the entity as a “troublemaker.”

“They have benefited from low oil prices,” Jordan told the press corps, “that allow them to recover from their bottom line.” According to the Finance Minister, GPL has been able to maximise on the low oil prices to pay off interests on loans owed to Government.

“I think they made $500M. They are budgeted to make $1B in transfer,” Jordan said acknowledging this as “a real turnaround from when we had to give them transfers. So now we’re re-transferring.”

“We are praying for the best,” the Finance Minister said placing himself on the cautious side, “oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last year. But we are hoping that production would be less than we have averaged.”

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo spoke to this very issue just a few days ago at the Public Buildings during budget estimates 2017.

Jagdeo told the press corps last week that some $15B was sitting in a bank account for GPL “because they have not passed on benefits of lower fuel prices to the consumers.”

“Yet we have this unconscionable level of blackouts, and they have no plan to fix it in the future,” Jagdeo said on the state entity’s response to the blackouts.

Minister Jordan spoke too on the performance of the Guyana Oil Company (GUYOIL) which, he said, “has been performing reasonably well.”

The Finance Minister said the company has benefited from price increases with time in the oil. “They have been able to make dividend payments,” he said, noting that this amounted to some $2B last year which “came in handy.”

This year, Minister Jordan continued, they are expected to make another $1B which will come in hand also. “They are showing their worth,” Jordan said of the state company, adding, “you need agencies like GUYOIL to really give effect to policies of the government.”