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Minister Joseph: No agreement yet on announced 30% drop in electricity rates

Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph

Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Oliver Joseph has affirmed government’s commitment to ensure that the cost of electricity for Grenadians will be reduced by 30% for the months of March, April and May.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing, Minister Joseph said that discussions are still ongoing between the Grenada Electricity Services Ltd. (GRENLEC) and the Keith Mitchell-led government on the 30% reduction in the electricity cost to consumers as promised by the administration.

Prime Minister Mitchell made the surprise announcement about the cheaper electricity bill within hours after an International Tribunal ruled against the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration in a dispute with the American-owned WRB Enterprises, the majority shareholder of Grenlec.

In responding to questions posed at the press briefing, the Trade Minister was unable to state categorically that a deal on the issue is in the making between government and the electricity company.

“I am not saying that an agreement was reached as yet but I am saying (that) in order to get the deduction, discussion has started, that’s all,” he told reporters.

Minister Joseph reiterated that “the government commits to ensuring that the cost of electricity will be reduced by 30% for the months of March, April and May, in the first instance to all consumers.”

However, he was quick to add that “consumers will not realise the 30% drop in the electricity rate this month end but it will be felt later”.

“You would not see it (the reduction) applying in (the month of) March because we are already almost to the end of March but you will see it reflected later on,” he said.

According to the minister the 30% reduction would not apply to a few business companies that already have concessionary arrangements with Grenlec.

The massive defeat suffered by government in the arbitration hearing would result in Grenada having to look for over EC$200 million to pay WRB Enterprises to buy back its 50% shareholding stake in the company plus costs and legal fees.

The arbitration panel ruled:-

  • The Respondent (Government) is to reimburse the Claimants (WRB Enterprise) for advances to ICSID in the sum of USD $239,972.37;
  • The Respondent (Government) is to pay the Claimants’ Attorneys’ Fees and Disbursements in the sum of USD $6,333,142.51;
  • The Respondent (Government) is to pay pre-Award and post-Award interest on the amount listed in (iv) or the balance outstanding from time to time at the rate fixed from time to time for Grenada 91-day Treasury Bills compounded annually from 3 May 2017 until fully paid;
  • The Respondent (Government) is to pay interest on the amounts listed in (v) and (vi) or the balance outstanding from time to time at the rate fixed from time to time for Grenada 91-day Treasury Bills compounded annually from the date of the Award until fully paid;
  • The aforesaid sums are to be paid by the Respondent and repatriated by the Claimants exempt from all Grenadian taxes, levies and other duties.
  • The Claimants (WRB Enterprise) are to honor their undertaking to reimburse GRENLEC for the improper payment of USD $522,353.15 for legal and accounting services that ought to have been paid by the Claimants in the first place.

The Mitchell-led government had previously made known its intention to sell the company to interested stakeholders but has remained tight-lipped on the potential buyers who are lined up.

Speculation is rife that a set of Chinese businessmen associated with the controversial investor Charles Liu who once spearheaded the failed tourism and real estate project in the south of the island are tipped to become the new owners of Grenlec.

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