CDC/ESBI's position on GEC remains unchanged -publicist
August 4, 1999
The position of the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC)/ESB International on investing in the power company has not changed and it is expected that a deal will be signed by month end.
"Their position has not changed on the investment," Jill Powers, Managing Director of Power Marketing, which is handling public relations for the UK-based consortium, said yesterday.
Apart from that, the consortium is not offering any further comments on the privatisation of the Guyana Electricity Corporation (GEC) and the threat by PNC leader Desmond Hoyte that the investors should be worried because key details of the agreements have not been released here.
Hoyte, in face of the government's reluctance to release the privatisation agreements, warned the CDC/ESBI to rethink its investment in Guyana or risk losing it. On Sunday, Oscar Clarke, General Secretary of the PNC, told Stabroek News the party was still awaiting the release of the agreements by the government.
The parliamentary opposition parties including The United Force (TUF) and the Alliance for Guyana (AFG) opposed legislation to facilitate the privatisation on grounds that they were not in a position to understand the bills without seeing the agreements they were premised on.
The PNC and AFG walked out of parliament when the Speaker refused to allow an adjournment to the debate until the agreements are made available. This was after the PNC had led a loud desk-thumping session to disrupt the debate on the legislation. TUF stayed on to oppose the bills--the Electricity Sector Reform Bill and the Public Utilities Commission Bill--and criticised the government for its stance and the PNC for its behaviour in parliament. Both bills were passed, with the government's majority in the House assuring this and clearing the way for a deal to be signed between the government and the CDC/ESBI. Such a deal will facilitate new management for the power company and an equity investment of US$23.45 million over three years.
AFG leader, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, told Stabroek News last weekend that given the passage of the bills, he would not rule out a move to the courts should the provisions of the agreement conflict with those of the Constitution. The parties are concerned that some of the provisions of the licence being granted to the CDC/ESBI will take precedence over the Constitution.
TUF's leader Manzoor Nadir, who was also contacted, said there were few options available to the political parties. He felt there could be an appeal to President Janet Jagan not to assent to the bills but noted this was unlikely given that it was the government which piloted the bills.
The other option, he said, was to try to mobilise public opinion, but he doubted this would be effective since the deal would have already been consummated.
Nevertheless, Nadir said the opposition should ensure that during the Constitution review process, a provision is enshrined to prevent any agreement between the government and an investor taking precedence over any existing written law. He said he would be very interested in seeing such an amendment made.
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