After a lapse of 4 days, two releases from WRB Enterprises and widespread condemnation on Government’s handling of the matter, Government has only just broken its silence on what WRB Enterprises has confirmed. Government has re-purchased the shares sold to WRB in 1994, for US$63,000,000 (EC$170,100,000).
This event has happened only as a result of a reckless enterprise pursued by Keith Mitchell and Gregory Bowen, fuelled by a personal vendetta. Nothing more.
The fact that WRB/GPP was able to communicate with the Grenlec workers and the people twice, before Government commented once, underscores the utter contempt with which this Government holds the Grenadian people. The reason advanced for the deafening silence is as insincere as it is unbelievable. If both parties signed a confidentiality agreement, how come then, WRB communicated with the people and Government could not?
As usual, the statement issued today is riddled with untruths, political spin and mischief. The National Democratic Congress says it is time for Government to stop the deceit, the mischief and the attempts to cast blame on others for a reckless enterprise that Bowen and Mitchell pursued for 26 years.
The shares have now been re-purchased and are back into Government’s hands as trustees for the people. Keith Mitchell’s and Gregory Bowen’s record when they are in control of Grenlec is terrible, as is well documented in the Worrel Commission report. Added to that, it is now internationally accepted that such companies are not managed and run at optimum when under state control.
NDC therefore makes clear its expectations on what must happen going forward, and in the shortest possible time:
- There must be full transparency and accounting to the public on the events leading up to this re-purchase. Specifically, Government must show respect for the law and our democratic institutions by giving a full account, through the Parliament, of the source of the funds used to re-purchase the shares.
- Government must disclose any agreement reached with third parties in the course of raising the funds and if any state asset was disposed of in the process.
- WRB/GPP have expressed confidence in the existing Grenlec staff to take the company to the next level. Government must ensure that no employee of Grenlec loses his or her job or suffer reduction in wages and other benefits.
- Social outreach and community development programmes sponsored by Grenlec should continue uninterrupted.
- Government must say, how it intends to deal with the shares it now has in hand. Particularly, what percentage it intends to sell, what percentage it intends to keep and what percentage will be made available to the Grenadian public to buy as an investment.
- In keeping with the above stated view on state ownership of such entities, NDC does not expect Government to increase its shareholding in Grenlec.
- The majority of shares must be preserved for purchase by Grenadians at home and in the diaspora and Government must work with local financial institutions to ensure that loans are made available to young Grenadians to buy shares.
- Government must be specific on the avenues it will pursue to secure increased reliance on renewable energy sources. We trust that Government will not dismantle the programme already in existence whereby private persons with solar panels are able to generate their electricity and sell the excess to Grenlec.
The benefits of the 1994 Public/Private partnership by which Government divested 50% of the shares are undeniable. The company moved from being bankrupt under Gregory Bowen’s management to being one of the best run utility companies in the Caribbean, experiencing consistent profitability and an increase in value of the shares. Grenlec has moved the nation from constant power outages to a reliable supply of energy that has got us consistent high scores on the ease of doing business energy index. Grenlec has in the last 26 years produced and trained a cadre of highly skilled and competent workers in the energy sector.
The NDC looks forward to the Government of Grenada acting in the best interest of all of the people of Grenada in treating with this matter.