City Hall still calling on GPL to own up to its debts
December 20, 2006
As legal proceedings continue into the Guyana Power and Light Company and City Hall debt saga, the City Council is still calling on the Power Company to own up to its debt.
City Mayor Hamilton Green said, yesterday, that the Power Company remains stubborn in its recognition of outstanding rates and taxes owed to the Council.
City Hall, in a letter to Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, dated December 5, states that the Power Company has only claimed responsibility for a few selected properties, which include: 5-8 Water Street, Kingston; 40 Main Street, Cummingsburg; 257 Middle Street, and in Sophia.
The Company has, however, refused to accept responsibility for Lot 39 Main Street, Cummingsburg; Railway Reserve, North Cummingsburg ; and Riverview, Ruimveldt.
The letter further states that the Council, for the time being, will pursue the outstanding taxes on these properties on the basis of occupier, in keeping with the Municipal and District Council Act, Section 209:5, Chapter 28:01.
With regard to the taxes on the properties accepted by GPL, the City Council has been advised that, in accordance with a vesting order, the properties were handed over free of liabilities. As such, the letter states, the Power Company is required to make payment from October 1, 1999 (date of vesting order) to December 2006, which amounts to more than $700M.
But, according to the letter, there was a verbal arrangement made by GPL with Council representatives — Town Clerk Beulah Williams, and City Treasurer Roderick Edinboro — in 2005.
Some form of settlement was derived, which, to date, has not been recorded or documented, and, as such, remains un-reconciled, the letter states.
And while not accepting GPL's position, the Council's view is that, even if GPL had settled its taxes in 2002, taxes would still be due from 2003 to 2006, amounting to more than $56M.
As such, the Council, in the letter, states that it wishes GPL to urgently apply the principle of exchange of cheques and settlement for the amount it owes.
Stressing that there is no legality, morality, or justice to the GPL disconnection, the letter further states that Council is requesting reconnection of electricity to all its locations, and that all settlements conclude by December 31.
GPL's Chief Executive Officer Bharat Dindyal, however, maintains that GPL is in no way indebted to the Council, and will render no further actions, pending the Court's ruling.
Meanwhile, the Council is seeking Government's advice on who is responsible for the taxes owed on the properties not deemed to be owned by GPL. GPL, on November 21, commenced disconnection of several Council-operated entities as a result of its non-payment of accumulated electricity costs. Several entities, including City Hall, the Bourda Constabulary, the Abattoir and the Council's Day Care Centre, were affected.
This action by the Power Company, however, prompted the cash-strapped City Council to review its rates and taxes, which revealed that GPL's debt, inherited from its predecessor, doubled the $243M GPL claimed the Council owed.
Talks then ensued between the two entities, in an attempt to reach a compromise.
GPL eventually reconnected the Council's Day Care Centre, despite Council's subsequent actions to defy talks and file a writ at the High Court to recover the outstanding rates and taxes.