Instead of asking the central government for a liquid financial $600 million bailout, City Hall should have asked the government to write off debts owed to the state power company, Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan says.
Duncan, in an invited comment, said he has been advocating for City Hall to approach the government to have the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) write off the city’s $1.8 billion in debts. According to Duncan, this is a position shared by Mayor Patricia Chase-Green.
Last week, GPL invited the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Town Clerk Royston King to a meeting to discuss the best approach to resolving the city’s arrears.
Duncan could not say whether the meeting occurred as he only received notice of the meeting afterward.
“I received the invitation last Wednesday for a meeting early Wednesday morning. The lateness of the invitation meant I could not attend the meeting so I can’t speak to what did or did not occur there,” he said.
In the correspondence, GPL had threatened to disconnect the electricity supply to city buildings and streets lights in the city if arrangements were not made to settle debts in the near future. The majority of the city’s debts result from the use of street lights.
Duncan said central government should approve the write-off since street lights are a public good enjoyed by all citizens and not just Georgetown residents and form an essential part of community infrastructure that aids in the prevention of crime. As a result, he said central government should step in to ensure that they continue to function.
Duncan, who is performing the duties of Mayor for two weeks while Chase-Green is in China, added that if the city is granted such a write-off, it would be in a position to address other pressing issues that require urgent attention.