GPL rents US$900,000 substandard generator for US$720,000 annually
The Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) last year paid a hefty US$8.6M to
GPL’s CEO, Bharat Dindyal, and other officials during a hearing with utilities regulator, Public Utilities Commission last week.
rent 12 Caterpillar generating sets for a period of one year. It could have spent just US$2.2M more to buy them all.
Last week, the company said that renting the generators was the only feasible option, as opposed to buying them.
The revelations were made when top GPL officials appeared before its regulator, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
It was during this public hearing, held at Tower Hotel, that GPL officials were pressed into disclosing the rental costs. GPL rents the sets from Machinery Corporation of Guyana Limited (MACORP).
Kaieteur News understands that on average, GPL was paying MACORP around US$60,000 monthly to rent the sets.
Each of the generating sets is actually rented for a base rental of US$43,000 every month, whether they are used or not. If they are used, that base rental only caters for 200 hours of work. Anything over the 200 hours automatically bumps up the rental to US$60,000, monthly. GPL sources confirmed that GPL worked the generators to the maximum; therefore what it has been paying is the full US$60,000 rental, per month.
This means that rental cost for the 12 generators amounted to some US$720,000 for each month last year.
In any given month, GPL loses a few days of work from the generators, to facilitate “top-up maintenance.”
Further, the generators are subjected to scheduled general maintenance every two months. With the “top up maintenance” and the “scheduled maintenance” time it means that every two months GPL does not benefit from the usage of each of the generators for about one week. However, it still has to pay the full rental cost.
The makers of the sets are retailing one for US$900,000 (G$180M), according to GPL officials. This means, it would cost only US$180,000 above the rental price.
GPL has said that it decided to rent against purchasing, because it did not have up-front capital at hand to go ahead and purchase the Caterpillar sets.
Four of the six Caterpillar generator sets at the John Fernandes Limited wharf in June, 2010.
GPL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bharat Dindyal, along with his Deputy Aeshwar Deonarine, in replying to questions, insisted that it is far more beneficial to rent the sets since the state-owned power company is not burdened by maintenance costs; maintenance fees are covered by the rental fee.
Further, Elwyn Marshall, Divisional Director (Operations) said that the generators which are rented are not fit for long-term operations, and are more ideal for a temporary solution.
This is despite the fact that in June last year GPL said that it had 22 of the same Caterpillar sets in the system.
Six Caterpillar sets brought in last June are still in the system at Versailles and Leonora, West Demerara, and at Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara, among other places.
Government is moving ahead with plans to build a 165-megawatt hydro-electric project at Amaila Falls, Region Eight, to meet growing demands.
GPL has said that electricity demands has been growing at least 10 per cent annually, outstripping investments and power production which until recently countrywide was over 80 megawatts.
An luxury at the taxpayers’ expense
MARCH 1, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS
Everyone is aware that Mr Shaik Baksh is no longer a Minister of Government nor is he serving the Government in an Advisory capacity and still has two state vehicles in his possession. These vehicles are being maintained at the expense of the taxpayers of this country.
Mr Baksh drives an open back pick-up PLL 9043 while his son drives a grey Prado PKK 7000. It is instructive to note that the current Minister of Education is without a State vehicle as is the custom and practice.
The good lady has to use a vehicle from her Ministry’s pool while Baksh is having fun. Can the Head of the Presidential Secretariat cause this situation to be put right. Shame on you Baksh, you have had enough from us Tax Payers.
Teddy L Ross
Robert Persaud wants Guyana Geology and Mines Commission to buy an elephant for his anchor babies to play with
Robert Persaud’s Ministry has no authority to spend money
FEBRUARY 22, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
…still to be gazetted-Greenidge
While there are those that laud the creation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment,
there are those that criticize the expansion of Government.
Others question the legality of the operations of this new entity.
Former Finance Minister in the People’s National Congress Government, Carl Greenidge, said that he is yet to see the new Ministry officially gazetted.
Greenidge believes that all of the monies being spent by the new Ministry can be considered illegal.
According to Greenidge, what is even more reprehensible is the fact that the Minister is even instructing entities outside of his purview to undertake expenditure.
Greenidge was referring to a request by Persaud to have the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) expend monies from its revenues to purchase an elephant for the Zoological Park.
Greenidge said that A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is proposing to request of the Government (and we are at one with the Alliance For Change on this) to have all of the agencies such as the GGMC which are semi-autonomous in nature and manage their own revenue to be brought under the purview of the Consolidated Fund.
He explained that these agencies are supposed to manage revenue in trust for the state but given the manner in which the entities have been operating Greenidge is pushing for them to be brought back under the purview of the Consolidated Fund.
“We have seen that these things have been extensively abused….It is not only a NICIL (National Industrial and Commercial Investment Ltd) problem or a rogue official.”
Greenidge said the fact that the Minister happens to be assigned two different Ministries does not give him the power to simply take money from one operating entity and use it for another, let alone instructing the entity itself to be making purchases that do not fall
within his competence and for which the articles of association and the article establishing the entity stipulates.
Greenidge did warn that it is the board of the GGMC which is ultimately responsible “so if the board is foolish enough to respond to an illegal demand by the Minister they will be held accountable.”
“So what you see taking place in NICIL in the past is not peculiar to NICIL, it is a phenomenon of the PPP operation under the presidency especially under (Bharrat) Jagdeo.”
He explained that one worry that the opposition has as it relates to public pronouncements is the fact that “between Messrs Persaud and (Dr Leslie) Ramsammy, for example, you hear a number of public pronouncements which clearly are inconsistent with the law and the regulations.”
Greenidge reminded that, “I have not seen the new Ministry gazetted and without that happening no monies should be spent by anybody purporting to run or have oversight over these Ministries.”
The former Finance Minister said that the issue at heart is but a part of the problem plaguing Guyana. “What is the President doing just allowing Ministers to run riot irrespective of the law? So there is in all the points of tension that have arisen in recent times between the opposition and the government, the question of legality.”
Greenidge said that regardless of whatever positive statements are being made by President Donald Ramotar, “his ministers don’t seem to recognize that we are under a new dispensation and under the new dispensation granted by the electorate we have a mandate to bring the activities of the executive as the legislature properly under the law.”
The agencies that fall under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment includes: the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Gold Board, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Guyana Wildlife, the National Parks Commission and the Protected Areas Commission.
New Chinese ferries to cost $50M per month
FEBRUARY 22, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS.
– Diesel-run Caterpillar engines unsuitable, more expensive
Two new Chinese-built ferries that will ply the Parika/Supenaam route are likely to
cost Guyanese taxpayers millions of dollars more to operate and maintain than the older class Makouria vessels, officials have said.
It is now more than likely government will have to subsidize the operations.
The two vessels, Sabanto and Kanawan, arrived late December as a “gift” from the Chinese Government and are said to worth around US$14M ($2.8B).
However, assuming that the vessels operate on a 30-day basis, it could cost as much as $50M to run them.
While figures of how much the older vessels cost to run were unavailable, officials said that it will be millions more for the new ones.
Each vessel has three decks and can hold up to 800 persons, 44 cars, and 20 lorries and can travel at a test speed of 12.5 knots. They come equipped with standard Caterpillar engines.
Personnel are currently being trained to work on the ferries while modifications
One of the two new Chinese ferries, the Kanawan, shortly after its arrival in Guyana in late December.
are being done to the Parika and Supenaam stellings in the Region Three area.
According to officials knowledgeable of the ferries’ test runs, while Caterpillar engines are dependable, they cost more using diesel as against the cheaper Bunker C fuel utilized by the older turbo-driven vessels like the Malali which are scheduled to be placed on other routes.
“In all likelihood, Government will have to subsidize the running of these two vessels as Transport and Harbours Department is unlikely to recover costs from its daily operations.”
The ferries will continue to provide a crucial link between Essequibo Coast, Region Two, and the city. Rice and cash crop farmers are heavily dependent on the vessels to transport their produce. They also provide a link to Wakenaam and Leguan, two islands in the Essequibo River.
Kaieteur News was told the Lister, Wartsila and even Blackstone engines would have been more suitable and cheaper to the Guyana condition.
It is about 19 nautical miles between Parika and Supenaam.
“Because of the high consumption rate of these Caterpillar engines, maintenance would have to be high in order to prevent problems and reduce breakdowns. This would obviously add to the costs with adequate spares for a year advisable.”
On average, it could cost $550,000 for each vessel to make two return trips to Parika. This adds up to around $16.5M monthly per vessel. However, this figure does not include the cost of running the generators on board the vessels which could tally up another $8M each, pushing the cost to operate both vessels to the $50M mark per month.
Another factor that could see the vessels underperforming is the fact that the heavy siltation of the Essequibo channels could reduce speed and would force management to lessen on the load, to avoid running aground.
The older ferries will continue to operate in Essequibo. Some will be deployed to Bartica, Wakenaam and possibly to the Berbice River.
– $40M loss in expired drugs
The 2010 Report of the Auditor General has continued to make worrying revelations about the Bharrat Jagdeo-led administration, with poorly kept records being the order of the day.
At the Ministry of Health, drugs at the government’s storehouses were being entered into the system using pencils, with almost $40M in medicine being destroyed at one time in 2010 because of expiry.
Similar to the issue of the problematic old age pension programme which the state auditors found to be in a complete mess and was blasted in the report, the inventory keeping at the Health Ministry came under fire.
The report covers audits on the Public Accounts of Guyana and the accounts of the various ministries, departments and regions.
At the Ministry’s Kingston’s Stores, auditors discovered several entries in stock ledgers made in pencil with the records not balanced.
“In addition, there were instances where receipts and issues of stock were not recorded and there was a failure to reconcile stock ledgers with bin cards. As a result, the vital control mechanism for ensuring proper accountability for stock was not in place.”
In addition to the stores accounting, auditors carried out a physical count of items at the stores and found 31 instances of significant shortages and excesses.
“Some items of stock were not displayed on shelves or stored in a manner to enable easy verification of quantities on hand and in some cases there was no evidence of labeling.”
At the Farm Stores, although there were systems to account for receipts of issues of the drugs and medical supplies to stock ledgers, bin cards and a computerized system, the records were not updated “resulting in balances shown not being considered as reliable bases for determining the stock position at a point in time. In the circumstances, a proper comparison with physical balances could not be carried out.”
The Audit Office said that it carried out a sample check of 93 items and found discrepancies with 57 of them.
Store workers were shockingly using the computerized database as the basis to update the stock ledgers. “These ledgers are required to be independent records of transactions, which can otherwise be authenticated through the use of source documents, such as orders or requisitions, invoices and deliveries, receipts and issue notes.”
There were several issues being deleted and written over without the relevant required initials.
“During the period under review, the Ministry continued to suffer losses due to expiration of large quantities of drugs. Noteworthy was the fact that destruction of expired drugs valued at $39.955M had occurred and a large quantity of expired stock as still on hand, pending processing and destruction.”
The Ministry, in explaining the finds, said that 100% stock count was being carried out and moves were underway to fully computerize the stock inventory.
The audit also found that while the Ministry in 2010 received a large quantity of gifts, it was not until August last year that it sought to have them recorded in the Public Accounts.
Over the weekend, Kaieteur News also published startling revelations carried in the report that indicated a possible racket in the ordering of photocopied text books for schools from a particular printer.
It was found that hundreds of millions in cheques were written months before the contracts were even approved by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, a clear suggestion that the Ministry of Education could have known beforehand that the award would have gone in a certain direction.
The report has been suggesting that the poor records kept by ministries of the government could see the system manipulated, with fraud likely.
There have been instances of goods being ordered and services paid for, to the tune of billions of dollars, without proof that value for money was given, and even that goods and services were actually delivered.
FEBRUARY 2, 2012 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER NEWS
By Dale Andrews
Lies, deceit, blame throwing are terms that characterize the case of the murdered Demerara Bank
employee, Sheema Mangar.
And investigators, being urged to forget their ultra reliance on the results of forensic tests and press on with their investigation, are admitting that they have reached a dead end and nothing can be done unless new evidence emerges.
It’s been more than a year since Mangar was dragged to her death by a car in which the man who had snatched her Blackberry phone was escaping and her mother, Radica Thakoor, has almost given up hope that local police will solve the case given the distrust she has developed.
Amidst all the misleading information she has been fed by those in authority, Thakoor is convinced that only a completely new approach where witnesses are sought, will lead to some satisfactory conclusion of all the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death, including the identification of the killer.
Samples of what appeared to be blood and a piece of fabric found on the two cars that were impounded did not match the victim’s DNA and clothing respectively.
“The police are to be blamed. Why wait a whole year relying on just the samples?” the mother asked.
According to the woman, the police kept telling her that they were waiting on the results of tests being done on the samples, as if that was the only aspect of the investigation that was important.
“They had built my hopes up and everywhere you go they were telling you they were waiting on the samples. They appeared so positive that that would have led to something, now we are back to square one,” Thakoor added.
She said that she could not believe her eyes when she read in the papers that the tests on the samples were negative.
One detective who was handling the matter initially put it in perspective, noting that solving a crime lies with the investigators.
He explained that after Mangar’s death, police had impounded two cars which crime scene technicians examined for evidence that could connect them to the crime scene or the victim.
On one vehicle a piece of broken hair was found while on the other vehicle a piece of green fabric was recovered.
Mangar’s uniform she was wearing the day she died had a greenish tint, so investigators had to consider the possibility that the piece of fabric could have come from her uniform.
A red spot was also identified on one vehicle and was collected as a suspected blood stain.
The detective pointed out that the investigation suffered a setback in the initial stages since Sheema Mangar was not accompanied to the hospital by a police rank, “therefore if she was able to make a dying declaration, no police rank was there to record what she had to say.”
Additionally no one was present at the hospital to collect her clothing, consequently only the jacket of her uniform was collected.
“She may have been wearing under garments, but these would have been discarded along with her skirt as the medical personnel focused their efforts on saving her life. The possibility of matching the green piece of garment recovered from the car to her clothing was therefore limited to a comparison with just the jacket she was wearing,” the detective explained.
A point to consider was the fact that the police had impounded two vehicles, on which they found what appeared to be blood stain and a piece of cloth.
But now that the results of those tests have returned negative, any hope of conclusively connecting Sheema Mangar to any of the vehicles disappeared.
So why all the controversy?
First, some senior officials of the Guyana Police Force assured the victim’s family that the Barbados laboratory had promised to deliver the DNA results by January 2012. We are now in February.
Secondly, when the negative results were eventually received from the DNA profiling of the suspected bloodstains, the police informed Mangar’s relatives that their analyst who was sent to Barbados forgot to take the hair samples with him. However this newspaper was informed that the analyst had deliberately left it behind since it had no root and therefore there was no way that the Barbados laboratory could have done any conclusive test.
Then the administration had given the impression that the crime could have been solved by a laboratory test in Guyana or Barbados, when in fact this turned out not to be the case.
“Crimes are solved by investigators, and the reason why the samples were sent to Barbados was in the hope that they may prove to be similar to those taken from the crime scene or the victim’s uniform so as to breathe new life into the investigation,” the detective told Kaieteur News.
He said that, in the meantime, investigators must shoulder the responsibility for seeking out eyewitnesses who can provide an accurate description of the vehicle involved, including if possible, the registration number, and also a description of the assailant.
Interestingly, the vehicle impounded were both Toyotas but different models- one an AT 192 and the other an AT 212. This clearly suggests that investigators are not too sure what type of vehicle was involved in the crime in the first place and there is definitely need for a more precise description of the vehicle involved.
For her part, Mangar’s mother does not intend to give up since she believes that there is still someone out there who could assist the police.
“Even though she cannot come back, I hope my efforts will bring about change in the way the police do their job,” Thakoor said.
‘Fip’ Motilall secures US$12M for selling hydropower licence to Sithe Global
Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall will receive at least US$12 million in profit from the entire affair.
Synergy Holdings was originally awarded the contract to construct the Amaila Falls Hydro Power
Plant but after failing to secure financiers to back the project, was forced to sell his licence to Sithe Global.
A recent visit to Guyana by the top brass of Sithe Global, including its Chief Executive Officer Bruce Wrobel, afforded a chance for an answer to be had to the cost of the licence to Sithe Global.
Apart from disclosing Sithe Global’s rate of return on its US$152M investment in the hydroelectric project is 19 per cent, Wrobel also disclosed that Motilall will be walking away with some US$12M for flipping his licence to that company.
“Synergy is entitled under the agreement of the transfer of that asset to financial compensation upon successful completion of the project.”
Those were the words of James McGowan, Senior Vice President (Development) at Sithe Global and Wrobel disclosed this past week that the compensation will total some US$12M.
Wrobel says that the company is attempting to place a new face on things today as a result of the previous lamentations on the silence of all partners involved
“Our role is very clear….we are a builder, a designer, a developer of energy projects….we have never really encountered a situation before where the politics is so intermeshed in the power situation,” Wrobel said as he sought to explain why the company had remained silent for such a long time.
Wrobel said that the money will include some of the early preparatory works such as feasibility studies but should the project successfully close then Motilall earns some US$12M.
“His expenses including early works, come out of that,” Wrobel told this publication.
Synergy Holdings Inc. was first listed as the developer to design, build, own and operate a hydroelectric plant in Guyana.
In 2002, Synergy Holdings and Harza International were granted a licence by the Government of Guyana under the Hydro-Electricity Act for the development of a hydroelectric plant at Amaila Falls.
The licence was reportedly amended and extended in 2004 when Harza pulled out leaving Synergy as the sole licensee. The licence was again extended in 2006.
Synergy Holdings was granted a US$15.4 million contract to build the access roads to the proposed site for the hydropower plant. That contract was rescinded on January 12 last.
Synergy Holdings Inc in 2007 identified Sithe Global as a potential investor in the project.
In 2008, Sithe Global put out to tender, the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) as part of the program and after vetting five bidders, China Railway was chosen as a contractor.
Synergy Holding’s Licence was formally transferred the following year to Sithe Global.
Motilall is himself no stranger to controversy as investigations found a plethora of evidence suggesting that Motilall could not have undertaken the Amaila Falls road.
The Amaila Hydropower Project is a planned hydroelectric project (approximately 165MW capacity) to be located in western Guyana.
The project also includes a new 270 km transmission line and new substations near Georgetown.