Guyana gov’t puts electricity hike “on hold” ; opposition sees grey areas

Guyana gov’t puts electricity hike “on hold” ; opposition sees grey areas

July 25, 2012 – Demerara Waves

The Guyana government Wednesday night announced that it has put a hold on increase in electricity rates from July 1, paving the way for a technical team to examine the feasibility of a tariff hike.
The terms of reference for the Technical Team would be hammered out by representatives of government and the Region 10 Administration, according to a statement from the office of the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon.

Government also said the two sides have agreed to explore economic initiatives and business financing. The Region 10 administration, according to the government, has agreed to submit investment proposals to government by the end of August.
But A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Aubrey Norton said his side remained uncomfortable with government putting on “hold” rather than “suspending” the tariff hike.

“Our negotiating team said we are comfortable with it being suspended and a competent qualified commission selected by both sides should be put together to deal with the electricity tariffs,” Norton told Demerara Waves Online News (
Norton explained that putting the tariff increase on hold signalled that it would be done in the future but suspension would provide for electricity to be provided at a cheaper rate if the commission finds that is possible.

Norton said he was unaware of the region committing itself to table proposals by next month end. “We never had any agreement like that with them,” he said, adding that proposals have been already tabled and would now be the subject of negotiations.

In the wake of government’s announcement, Norton said the status of the week-long protest by Lindeners would have to be determined by the community there. “The question of protest will be determined by the people of Linden. When the people of Linden make their decisions we, the people who are elected to lead and guide, will merely follow their dictate.”

Three men were shot and killed on Wednesday July 18 during clashes with police. Since then, roads in Linden- a gateway to many interior locations- have remained blocked. Commercial banks have reported being low on cash. BOSAI’s bauxite operations have ground to a halt and fuel was allowed in by protesters only for electricity generation to the community.

Following is the full text of the statement by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon.

Since the July 18th incident the Administration has been meeting practically on a daily basis with stakeholders to address concerns that arose since the protest and, specifically since the shooting deaths.

The recent engagement, which the regional chairman Mr. Solomon and his delegation took place on Monday, July 23rd subsequent to an invitation extended by the President to Mr. Solomon. His delegation included Ms.Vanessa Kissoon, the Geographic Member of Parliament, from Region 10, Mr. Aubrey Norton, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine and Mr. Nigel Hughes. Accompanying the President were Ministers; Clement Rohee, Robeson Benn, Ashni Singh and the Presidential Advisor on the Government’s side Ms. Gail Teixeira and the Cabinet Secretary and the Presidential Adviser Mr. Lumumba

The atmosphere at that engagement was candid and frankness characterized the exchanges. Both sides were committed to finding ways towards the resolution of the issues and a return of normalcy within the mining community of Linden. As a result of the engagement, the government side has prepared its submission and submitted it to Mr. Solomon reflecting the Government of Guyana’s positions on important issues to which the RDC chairman undertook to respond which regards to the electricity tariffs in the most critical and on the resulting event for the protest, the government undertook to put on hold the July 1 deadline for the decision of the increase of the tariffs rate.

In the interim, the government also undertook to establish a technical team to look into all aspects of the electricity tariff system in Linden and, this review would include all available and practical options and the attendant implications, financial and otherwise. Also, the government undertook to have the composition, the members of the technical team named from collaboration on both sides and the team will draft terms of reference that would have been agreed upon by both sides.
The Government side and the Region 10 administrative delegations undertook to have the technical team established as soon as possible, once the points – one and two previously mentioned were implemented.

The second undertaking dealt with the economic initiatives and the Government side undertook – it actually reiterated its commitments made in the April 2012 budget talks with the parliamentary opposition APNU and AFC with regards to the resuscitation of the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN), the successor to the Linden Economic Advancement Programme, the establishment of a microcredit scheme for the region, along the lines of the Women of Worth microcredit scheme already in existence.

The Government also reaffirmed that it had been and will continue the exploration leading to the introduction of such a scheme by a commercial bank for Region 10 specifically and for Linden in particular. Further the government side also undertook to encourage the regional chairman and the RDC in consultation with the community to submit its priority of economic activities that in its opinion would benefit the Linden community and Region 10 in the short, medium and long-term, taking of course into consideration the existing investment programme and other proposals. The region will submit its proposals to the Government side within one month or by the end of August 2012.

Additionally the Government side undertook to have the Ministry of Agriculture working with farmers in the West Watooka area and other farmers in Linden to realize Region 10’s agriculture potential.

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