Deputy leader of main opposition APNU Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine yesterday said that government is arranging for a meeting between opposition Members of Parliament and technical officers of the Guyana Power and Light Company Inc (GPL) about the running of the company and how it spends its money.
Roopnaraine was speaking at a press conference held yesterday at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
Over $5 billion was cut from government’s budget for GPL by the opposition and this was cited as one of the reasons for its recently announced decision to seek an increase in electricity tariffs. President Donald Ramotar has since directed the company’s management to hold off on seeking the increase as the government looks at ways of restoring the subsidy.
At a recent meeting between the opposition and government on the GPL, a proposal was made and accepted to have engagements at the technical level instead of the political directorate.
“What we wanted to have was a very direct engagement, unmediated by politicians, with the technicians in charge,” Roopnaraine explained yesterday. “We want to deal with the technicians who are responsible for the implementation of whatever project plans are on the table,” he said.
Roopnaraine lamented that the lack of technical capacity on the part of the opposition in terms of consultants and experts, saying it would see the opposition taking a longer time to go through technical documentation.
“As you know, the Office of the Leader of the Opposition is running on a next to nothing budget and as a result we don’t have the capacity to engage the level of technical expertise that should be at the disposal of the opposition as it is at the disposal of the government,” he said. “We need to develop and build the capacity of the Leader of the Opposition’s Office that would permit us to do justice to the scrutiny of any set of documents,” he said.
Roopnaraine said that the engagement between the government and the opposition on the GPL was triggered by the threat of a tariff increase. “We have looked at that from a political point of view and have had some discussions on it,” he said. “We do believe that for us to come to a logical and rational conclusion in relation to what we are asking of GPL is essentially to explain to us why over this length of time they have not made the kind of progress in relation to reducing commercial and technical losses. Were we to restore the amounts cut, what guarantee will they give us that there will be real progress in relation to some of these issues?” he asked.