Information has surfaced showing that the 1995-99 New National Party (NNP) government led by Dr. Keith Mitchell had an opportunity to renegotiate the terms and conditions of the 1994 sale agreement between the Grenada Electricity Services and United States-based WRB, before the agreement actually came into force.
Parliament has recently approved a new Electricity Supply Bill, which in essence makes provisions for several terms, and conditions that are not catered for under the 1994 law, essentially, opening up the electricity sector to increased local and foreign investment, especially in renewable energy.
In introducing the new bill to the Lower House of Parliament, Minister with responsibility for Public Utilities, Gregory Bowen, outlined the need to change the 1994 law, describing the terms and conditions of the Grenlec sale negotiated under the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite as an “atrocity committed against the people of Grenada.”
Congress has since defended the sale, expressing the view that the NNP has been trying to destroy the NDC brand over the current Grenlec issue.
The island’s sole electricity provider was once managed by the current Works Minister Gregory Bowen when it was state-controlled.
The Line Minister was Dr. Mitchell who held the position of Minister for Works with responsibility for Grenlec under the late Prime Minister Herbert Blaize.
Speaking with the media last week Monday on the passage of the controversial Electricity Supply Bill (2016), Political Leader of the NDC, Senator Nazim Burke said, “from listening to the ministers of government speaking, one would get the clear impression that they had absolutely nothing to do with this law (of 1994).”
Burke noted that “the NDC signed the agreement (but) the NNP made it law.”
He said the fact of the matter is while the 1990-95 NDC government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite negotiated and signed the agreement to privatise Grenlec, this law was actually put into force by the New National Party administration on October 2, 1998.
“This is the reality”, said Burke who was Minister of Finance in the 2008-13 Congress government led by Tillman Thomas.
Sen. Burke, told reporters that the records will show that on “February 4, 1997 a motion was brought to the Parliament by then Sen. Lawrence Joseph to renegotiate the terms and conditions of the 1994 agreement…the motion was successful, which gave the government the parliamentary and legislative authority to renegotiate that Act of 1994 rather than passing it into law.”
He said it is also important to note that “the motion was supported by the Labour Senator at the time, Sen. Chester Humphrey, who is now serving as President of the Upper House.
“What was of interest was that while they agreed that it should be renegotiated and while they had the majority (votes in the Parliament) for that, they took no steps to renegotiate the law…”, he remarked.
“We wish to clarify this…that before having this agreement into the force of law the NNP had the opportunity to amend the law…and they absolutely failed to do so,” he said.
NDC Caretaker for the Town of St. George, Sen. Franka Bernadine expressed concern and discontent with Minister Bowen being the person selected by the government to re-enter negotiations with Grenlec at this point in time.
“This person has had big (personal) issues with the company, has been laid off by the company and then you send him back in to negotiate on behalf of the rest of us…
“Is that not a clear indication to the company that we are back to take our revenge,” she questioned adding that “we (Grenadians are) being the innocent victims in the whole process.”
Bowen was dismissed as manager of Grenlec in the 1990-95 period by a government-appointed Board of Directors that was headed by businesswoman, Lucy Steele, the mother of current Health Minister Nickolas Steele.
The Mitchell-led government has hinted that it has funds set aside for the long-protracted legal battle that might lie ahead with Grenlec on the move to break the law that guarantees the company a monopoly in the sector until 2074.