Cabinet still to decide on new board for power company

The recommendations put forth by the Public Infrastructure Ministry as it relates to the Guyana Power and Light’s Board of Directors are still with cabinet and awaiting approval.

Since September, a new board had been promised to the management of the state company. Chief Executive Officer at the time, Bharat Dindyal had told Stabroek News that the board’s life had officially expired in July.

Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson had subsequently told this newspaper that the new board while awaiting cabinet approval would be charged with the task of advertising and hiring a new CEO as Dindyal was let go after ongoing conflict between him and then Deputy CEO and now acting CEO Colin Welch.

Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Patterson reiterated that he was still of the view that the board would be responsible for the hiring of the new CEO. Stabroek News ventured that the given the importance of the utility company there has been a significant lag in establishing the new board. Patterson said that this was not the case, however he gave no indication as to whether or not a new board would be put in place before the end of the year.

“…the whole programme I don’t want to be involved,” Patterson told Stabroek News about the processes of hiring and firing. He said that those responsibilities would fall to the board and as minister he wished to remain away from the direct involvement. Patterson noted that the utility company needed to operate in such a manner that he did not want day- to-day or direct influence.

Questions have been raised as to whether Welch is suitably qualified for the post he now holds.

And yesterday, in response to a report in the Kaieteur News (KN) alleging impropriety in the ordering of meters, the Director of Public Information, Imran Khan released a statement on behalf of Patterson.

The statement said that after the Minister received complaints he aborted the tender process for prepaid meters and instructed more than a month ago that the process which started under the PPP/C administration be set aside and for it to be retendered. The statement said that the main complainant to the minister objected to the process.

Patterson then instructed an independent review of the complaints, the statement said, and all of the main complaints were found to be invalid. New tendering procedures under a new team has been set in motion. The statement said that it was after this had occurred the alleged new emails which the KN report yesterday is mainly based on had surfaced and Patterson is committed to looking into same.

The decision to appoint Welch to the position of CEO following the dismissal of Dindyal was criticised heavily.

Former Prime Minister Sam Hinds had in August revealed that prior to 2012 Welch had no utility experience. The former Prime Minister, who had responsibility for the power sector for 23 years, explained in a letter to Stabroek News how Welch arrived at GPL.

“Sometime in 2012, Mr Welch was introduced to me as a Guyanese who had studied at Harvard, had worked at major US companies and who was keen to contribute his expertise and experience in management to his country, specifically at GPL. Mr Welch although he had no utility experience, seemed to be just what GPL needed. He could be a great addition to the executive management level where there was a shortage of numbers and everyone seemed too much stuck in hands-on day-to-day work. I requested the Chairman to negotiate with Mr Welch with intent to hire him, seeking the best (lowest) acceptable compensation package.

“The first appraisal of Mr Welch by the CEO (Dindyal) was blistering. I ruled that it was too early to make such final determinations. Mr Welch should have more time to catch his feet,” the former Prime Minister had stated.

Stabroek News had on several occasions asked GPL for information on the CEO’s credentials but no information has been provided.

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