In a blistering attack on a U.S company with controlling interest in Grenada’s sole electricity company, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has accused WRB Enterprises of interfering in the electoral process in the country.
“I have a serious problem with that,” Dr. Mitchell told supporters of the ruling New National Party (NNP) at an election rally Sunday in Plains, St. Patrick.
He warned WRB which is majority shareholder in Grenlec that it stands to face action from the NNP regime which is seeking a 5th term in office in the March 13 general election.
“My friends, I want to issue a warning to WRB. You are here but you must respect the people of this country – you cannot come in this country and disrespect the leadership chosen by the people of this country, you are out of place”, he said.
“WRB, sisters and brothers, has seen it fit to put out releases literally attacking the government on a fundamental policy that the Parliament of the country has passed. They out-ta place, they are guests to our country and they must respect the rights of the people of our country. WRB behave,” he remarked.
Since November 2017, Grenlec has been raising issues with government’s amendment to the Grenada Electricity Supply Act 2016, particularly pointing to Section 20 which mandates Grenlec to give 5% of its pre-tax profit to a government-controlled Social Fund.
Grenlec has filed papers in the Supreme Court Registry to challenge the constitutionality of the action.
The utility company also announced that it was suspending the Grenlec Community Partnership Initiative (GCPI) in which a number of local organisations receive financial donations.
Grenlec has also put out a number of TV advertisements on the issue with the Mitchell-led government.
PM Mitchell warned WRB that the monies that are dished out by Grenlec to GCPI comes as a result of the taxpayers of the country.
“The attempt of WRB to pretend that they doing us a favour by the few dollars that are given to projects – this is not their money, this is the people of Grenada money and to tell you some of their political actions they are now telling the organisations that they normally give some of their monies to that because of what the government has done, they not giving them anything at all. I tell them don’t worry, if they turn you down, come to government we’re gonna deal with it. We have a solution for that problem,” he said.
Dr. Mitchell accused WRB of having no interest in investing in Grenlec which was privatised in 1994 under a former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of late Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.
WRB became the majority shareholder in Grenlec after the NDC administration was forced under a Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to sell loss-making state enterprises.
Prior to WRB’s entry, the electricity company was noted for regular black-outs and constant load-shedding especially during the 1984-89 period of NNP reign in which Dr. Mitchell served as the Line Minister.
In an attempt to allay the fears of foreign investors, Prime Minister Mitchell told supporters that the NNP government favours and promotes private sector development.
“We have consistently sought to have investors from wherever country to bring in their resources and their skills to help us to continue to march forward economically….”, he said.
Dr. Mitchell went on: “So, if WRB was interested in investing in our electricity company and making a contribution to our country, I have no problem whatsoever but sisters and brothers I would always say this, what is good for the individual taxpayers in this country is good for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique but I have a simple problem with what’s taking place with WRB”.
PM Mitchell also pointed an accusing finger at the NDC leadership of being in support of WRB action against government.
“The issue of electricity cost is not about NNP, NDC, Keith Mitchell, (Works Minister) Gregory Bowen – it is about the future of this beautiful country of ours. The NDC has seen it fit … to support WRB against the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Let them come out and tell you they are not supporting what WRB is doing – they cannot tell you this”, he said.
“My friends, I will not sell my country for 30 pieces of silver,” he added.
According to Dr. Mitchell, the next move by government in the battle with WRB is to inform the United States Government about the actions of the Florida-based company.
“I have already signalled to my friends in the American Government that I will be writing them officially about the behaviour of WRB attempting to interfere in the electoral process in this country,” he said.
In 2017, Prime Minister Mitchell dropped hints that he planned to expose Grenlec as a financial donor to Congress.