Talks, cheque exchange stays City power disconnection

The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) yesterday announced that it has exchanged cheques with the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) for the sum of $29 million and has managed to secure a delay in its June 15 disconnection date following negotiations which were held on Wednesday.

The council will also be paying GPL its monthly payment of $7 million in keeping with a prior arrangement. It still owes  the power company over $1 billion.

The $29 million paid by GPL was for the company’s rates and taxes owed to the council for the year. The council’s monthly light bill is around $21 million, so it has paid an extra $8 million.
Public Relations Officer of the M&CC Royston King said there is to be another meeting with officials from the power company next week to look at reports to see how the city is progressing in settling its balance. He also said that the Finance Committee of the council is currently looking at methods to settle the debt given that the council is strapped for cash.

Mayor Hamilton Green
Mayor Hamilton Green

At a press conference that was called by Mayor Hamilton Green yesterday, it was announced that the council’s electricity bill without billing for street lights amounts to $6 million – $7 million. Green added that the council has been behind in payments for half of last year.

Green told reporters that he was trying to ascertain at the meeting with GPL if the amount owed goes back to when the council took office in 1994, but was not successful even though that seems to be the case.

King on the other hand said that the council is seeking to propose a tripartite agreement to have an in-depth look at street lighting and its cost to the council.

When asked about tackling street lights that are left on in the day given that it plays a significant role in the electricity bill, King said the problem with such lights lay in a component within the facility itself. He said that there were some discussions with the engineer and before the end of this month a team will begin a process to determine the lights that are working and those that are not.

The current crisis with GPL is nothing new. In 2009, a similar situation occurred when the council defaulted on its debt to GPL and had its power disconnected forcing the municipality to use generators to carry out its daily operations. The amount owed then was some $600 million.

The $1,090,525,575 announced as being owed at the end of April points to a lack of progress in settling those arrears.

The same position of engaging in talks with GPL to resolve the issue was taken back then and the same exchange of cheques technique was used. In 2009 Green had also stated that the council was strapped for cash and had not been given the privilege to broaden its revenue base.

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