Jagdeo lying about GPL’s financial position
Highlights his irresponsible, deceitful nature – Board Chairman
“Totally incorrect,” said Chairman of Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Board of Directors, Robert Badal. This was Badal’s response when asked to comment on the veracity of statements made by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo to the effect that GPL has $20B “sitting in an account.”
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo
At his most recent press conference, Jagdeo said that GPL has accumulated the sum “because they did not lower the price of electricity when the price of fuel fell on the world market, so they are reaping.”
Jagdeo added, “They have collected from ordinary citizens, and our businessmen, some $20B more than they should have collected in two years from us, and it is sitting in an account at GPL.”
This was not the first time Jagdeo made statements along those lines. Back in 2016, just after Minister of Finance Winston Jordan presented that year’s National Budget, Jagdeo told the media that GPL had $5B “sitting in an account”. Over the months the figures he quoted has grown and is now at $20B.
Badal has come on record to, once and for all, put an end to Jagdeo’s bold assertions. The Chairman said that Jagdeo is “pulling figures out of the air.”
In an invited comment, Badal said that GPL does not have that amount of money in any account. He also stated that Jagdeo’s utterances that GPL’s good cash standing exists only as a result of lowered oil prices and that the benefits of lowered prices have not been passed on to consumers, are also false and misleading.
The Chairman said that soon after he was appointed, GPL’s Board, in April 2016, approved a 20 percent reduction in electricity rates in the form of 5 percent tariff reduction and a 15 percent fuel rebate. Badal went further to state that Jagdeo was being a hypocrite, as he knows very well that in years prior to the 2015 elections, no reduction was passed to the consumers, despite lowered fuel prices.
The Chairman did not deny the fact that GPL has secured some amount of money as a result of the lowered prices, but said that he is not disposed to disclose GPL’s cash balance.
“GPL has achieved a significant improvement in its financial position and this will be revealed in its soon to be published annual report of 2016.”
The Chairman said that a combination of factors has contributed to the improved financial position. “In addition to the current level of international oil prices there have been internal heightened efficiencies in the area of collection, inventory and management.”
GPL Chairman, Robert Badal
Badal said that there has also been better scheduling of procurement and there has been procurement of major equipment and supplies directly from manufacturers. “Even the recent tendering of our fuel supply generated further cost savings.”
The Chairman said that unlike its reliance on government bailouts and government guaranteed loans in the past, GPL is now in a position of being able to finance the bulk of its capital programmes from internally generated resources. In this regard he noted that GPL’s Infrastructural Development Programme phase two is currently being planned and tendered out.
Badal took the opportunity to caution Jagdeo about his “irresponsible” and “deceitful” behaviour.
“The former President has had a long pattern of lying and misrepresenting information in and out of office. His recent statement is no different. Perhaps he believes that the audience he had lied to and manipulated over the years still exists.”
He continued, “It is time Jagdeo stop this pattern. To pull figures from the air and try to feed it to the media is very irresponsible.”
He said that Jagdeo should be wary of talking about GPL, since he must know that the entity is in a much better position than it was under the PPP/C regime. “They had it for 23 years and they ran it right down.” Badal said that there have been fewer blackouts recently “but a lot of blackouts that occurred during the end of last year were as a result of the mismanagement of GPL under his (Jagdeo’s) regime.”
“We understand that he is a politician and performs to get political mileage, but he needs to be a little more responsible. Let him speak facts” said Badal.