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Sacking was not the reason for failure says PM

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Change in personnel at the state-owned electricity company in 2003 was not the reason for the recent electricity crisis at Vinlec, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves assured on Tuesday.

During a press briefing at the Cane Hall power plant, the Prime Minister said that the persons who were removed from the management of the electricity company in 2003 were present in August 2002 when the situation was worse than it presently is.{{more}}

The Prime Minister was responding to comments made concerning the firing of top-level management at the electricity company in March 2003.

Back then, seven managers including four senior engineers were terminated because of what then minister with responsibility for energy, the Hon. Julian Francis said was a failure of the managers to work together as a team and properly attend to the company’s problems. These were the findings of a study that was undertaken following widespread disruptions in electricity in August 2002.

Last week, parts of the country were again without electricity after a major generator failure brought electricity generating capacity on the mainland to below the peak requirement of 19 MW, forcing Vinlec to load-shed electricity supply to its customers.

There have been calls from some quarters for heads to roll at the electricity company since persons were dismissed in 2003 because of power shortages in 2002.

“Since we came to office in 2001 we have added 7.1 mega watts of generating capacity at Cane Hall, there are some who hear my criticisms but do not hear my praise of Vinlec and my overall analysis,” Dr. Gonsalves said.

According to the Prime Minister, because of the tardiness of the previous administration in proceeding with the development project for Vinlec at its Lowman’s Bay power plant, the electricity company is now marred with problems.

Dr. Gonsalves explained that his administration was forced to persuade the European Investment Bank and the CDB to allow the purchasing of the additional capacity at Cane Hall because of the slowness in getting the Lowmans Power plant off the ground.

Justifying the reasons for the shake up in Vinlec’s management during the 2003 period the prime minister said: “We had a report done by consultants, and one of the issues highlighted by the consultants was the issue of a lethargic culture in Vinlec.”

Vinlec’s present management, he said, would now have to make sure that the systems and structures a sufficiently nimble to respond to the extant and emerging challenges.

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