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GESCO fuel gone missing

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Some $25,000 in fuel seemed to have just evaporated from the General Equipment and Services Corporation (GESCO). At the same time the corporation has $100,000 in delinquent receivables and its fuel supply from SOL has been cut off.

However, the days of GESCO are numbered as Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said it will be subsumed into a new entity that will be responsible for repairs of roads, bridges and buildings as early as January 2007.{{more}}

He made the announcement as he also revealed that Simpson Oil Limited (SOL) had stopped the supply of fuel to the corporation because of unpaid bills.

Gonsalves told Parliament he will loan the money but it has to be repaid.

SEARCHLIGHT visited GESCO this week but neither its General Manager, Robbie Fitzpatrick, nor Chairman Joel Providence would speak about the new entity.

However on the SOL areas, Providence said it was “not a chronic issue”.

On the issue of missing fuel, Providence said it appeared that some people collected fuel but never paid for it however Permanent Secretary in the Transport and Works Ministry, Leon Snagg, said two persons were dismissed from GESCO in April 2005 after the $25,000 worth of fuel went missing.

Snagg said 75 per cent of the $100,000 owing to the Corporation was “ancient”.

Fitzpatrick acknowledged that “a lot of money was outstanding” to GESCO but did not provide a figure because of “political implications”.

He has been general manager for the past six years and boasted about improvements at GESCO over the last five years.

The corporation operates a fuel pump, has equipment for hire, repairs and servicing vehicles, and sells sand for construction.

He insisted that GESCO followed strict business principles and had a “zero tolerance for theft”. He maintained that he was unaware of anyone having been dismissed in connection with the $25,000 in missing fuel.

“We have people who run the operations. You ensure there are checks and balances,” Fitzpatrick said.

With GESCO fuel supply cut off, Prime Minister Gonsalves said that arrangements had been in place for essential service vehicles to be supplied with gasoline such as police, fire, and ambulances.

Fitzpatrick expressed confidence in his corporation’s records and he found it strange that some government departments were querying amounts owed.

He was “quite satisfied” with GESCO’s performance under his tenure.

“We have done great. We have made tremendous strides,” he added.

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