Despite its acquisition of majority shares in the Grenada Electricity Services Limited (Grenlec), the Government of Grenada said that local utility provider will operate a private entity
“Grenlec will continue to operate as a private company under the Companies Act,” Finance Minister Gregory Bowen said recently as he responded to a question about the company’s new legal structure.
Consequent on the Government’s majority stake in the utility company, which trades on the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange, the Grenada Government and small shareholders will have decide on a newly constituted board of directors to manage the company.
In fact, Bowen pointed out that a meeting with the shareholders may result in the selection of a management company to run Grenlec. According to a report from NOW Grenada, the Government had approached the World Bank and the International Renewable Energy Agency to procure the services of a world-class management company to operate the utility and facilitate the divestment of the shares through a public offering.
“I do not think there is any need to worry about the workers at Grenlec. I hear concern being expressed about the workers’ status, but I assure them that the company’s operations continue and their services are still very much required ”— Dr Keith Michell, prime minister, Grenada
In addition, the third-party management company will align the utility provider with Government’s objectives of achieving increased use of renewable energy, enhanced energy security, greater reliability of the service, lower prices, and more access.
“The company will continue to report to the Board, but there will be certain prerogative with the World Bank/IRENA onboard monitoring their plans. It will not be like WRB but more of a transition into renewables and to ensure that Government’s energy policy is followed, because that policy is based on 2035 policy,” Bowen said.
The Government of Grenada, subsequent to WRB Enterprises’ announcement that it had sold its shares, confirmed that it regained control of 50 per cent shareholding held by the Florida, USA outfit — including 11 per cent from its affiliate Grenada Private Power Limited.
Moreover, it said it reached a settlement with WRB Enterprises for US$63 million, based on an arbitration award from the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.
According to Bowen, the Government did not take funds from a third party or the Consolidated Fund to purchase the shares, contrary to the speculations of members of the main Opposition party, National Democratic Congress. Rather, it used funds allocated to the country’s capital expenditure budget to buy back the shares from WRB ENterprises.
And despite earning the right to rearrange the board and structure of Grenlec, the Grenada Government has assured workers at the utility company that their status will remain unchanged.
“I do not think there is any need to worry about the workers at Grenlec. I hear concern being expressed about the workers’ status, but I assure them that the company’s operations continue and their services are still very much required,” Dr Keith Mitchell, prime minister, said recently.
“Why would you think that a foreign family-owned business will treat you better than your own Government and people with whom you identify on all levels? The time has come for us to drop the colonial mindset where we think that the foreign man, with a different complexion, is better than the local. I really want us to move to another level,” he added.
“Until there is a decision as to how we are going forward, the manager is in place; we do not intend to do anything about that right now. The only change will be in the board of directors, but a final decision on that has not yet been made. The Minister of Public Utilities will have to make recommendations then a final decision will be made,” Dr Mitchell further stated.