The government is definitely speaking the truth when it said that it was not surprised by the move by Private Power Limited (GPP), the 50% shareholder of Grenlec, along with GPP’s parent company WRB Enterprises Inc. (WRB) to seek an intervention from the World Bank on the Grenlec issue.
The major significant shareholder in Grenlec had given a very clear signal earlier of its intent when it made public a few weeks ago its desire for the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to repurchase the company under a well-crafted Share Purchase Agreement (SPA).
This is the agreement that GPP and WRB entered into back in 1994 with the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of late Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite for the privatisation of Grenlec.
The current cash-strapped government in the Botanical Gardens is in no position to come up with the EC$175 million that WRB and its associates are asking to hand over the company to total local ownership once more.
There is a generation of persons in Grenada who are ill-informed about the Grenlec saga since the island’s sole electricity company first fell into local hands under the 1979-83 People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) of Maurice Bishop.
The 1984 government of the New National Party (NNP) of Herbert Blaize had inherited an electricity company that was in dire need of equipment upgrade to arrest the frequent power outages around the island.
Current Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell served as Minister of Communication & Works in the Blaize regime and was the line Minister responsible for Grenlec.
He soon assembled a team of close aides including his cousin, Dennis Campbell, who was General Manager of NAWASA and made him Chairman of the Board of Directors of the electricity company.
A former student of Dr. Mitchell at Presentation Brother’s College (PBC), Gregory Bowen was appointed the General Manager of Grenlec.
The Blaize government embarked upon a programme of Rural Electrification throughout the country as many villages were still in the Dark Age prior to the collapse of the Grenada Revolution.
A very shrewd Dr. Mitchell successfully used the Rural Electrical programme as the platform to launch his political ambitions with an eye to one day becoming the Prime Minister of Grenada.
The Mitchell-led team was able to stage big “fetes” at every village that electricity was brought into and soon was outshining the other top NNP Cabinet Ministers like Dr. Francis Alexis and the late George Brizan.
Grenlec has always been close to the “heart” of the current Prime Minister and Bowen.
It is quite understandable that the two were in the forefront of opposition to the move by the Congress government of Sir Nicholas to privatise the company, which was proving very costly to the taxpayers of the country.
The Brathwaite government had inherited a country that was left uncreditworthy and virtually financially bankrupt by the 1984-90 rule of the first NNP regime.
The then Congress government was forced to introduce a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), the exact thing that Dr. Mitchell had to do after winning the 2013 general election to address a bad fiscal situation.
The NDC had no choice but to sell majority shares in Grenlec as part of the privatisation agenda being pushed by the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in order to get financial assistance to address the ills in the economy.
The choice facing Sir Nicholas was – resist the demands of the fund and face the consequences.
Twenty-three years later, the current NNP of Dr. Mitchell is facing the same fate with the IMF under another Structural Adjustment Programme.
It was the privatisation of Grenlec in 1994 and now it is Fiscal Responsibility Legislation (FRL) to keep the NNP regime in check on run-away spending.
THE NEW TODAY is warning Grenadians that the Grenlec move to seek arbitration of the issue before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) with government can be a very costly exercise for this taxpayers of the country running into millions of dollars.
Both PM Mitchell and Bowen are fully aware of this in light of the previous arbitration before the same world body in the dispute with U.S oilman, Jack Grynberg on oil exploration rights in our territorial waters.
The taxpayers of the country will once again have to foot a hefty bill for the adventures of PM Mitchell and Bowen.
The Blanchard family that controls Grenlec has the financial resources to spend millions in legal fees for the best lawyers in North America to put forward their case in the Arbitration proceedings.
How will the IMF in particular react to the NNP administration allocating millions for the Grenlec arbitration when the same money is needed to reduce the huge national debt that is primarily due to the adventures of the same PM Mitchell and Bowen in the past 20 years?