McPherse Thompson, Assistant Editor - Business
The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) has expressed concern about the construction of the 360 megawatt power plant and has urged the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to ensure that the project is delivered on time and within projected cost.
In a communiqué issued yesterday, EPOC, which is monitoring con-ditionalities under Jamaica's loan programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said members were aware that growth needs to be accelerated if the country is to continue to meet the IMF targets on a sustained basis.
"In that respect, EPOC expressed disappointment about the apparent missteps in executing the country's energy policy and stressed the importance of lower-cost energy to competitiveness," the communiqué said.
The statement did not identify to whom or to what the EPOC was referring when it mentioned missteps.
However, EPOC co-chairman, Richard Byles, at a press briefing at his Sagicor Life offices in New Kingston yesterday, said the reference was to those who were managing the process.
Asked what the missteps were, he said that from the point of view of a Jamaican looking on, "what I see is one of the single largest investments in Jamaica in a crucial area of energy that impacts every other aspect of business and life in the country. We have a process going where the first qualified bidder can't come up with the money".
Without referring to anyone in particular, Byles continued: "Something is wrong in the way in which we proceed that we could end up with a successful bidder that can't come up with the deposit. So we are now on to the second one."
Azurest Cambridge Power was selected as the preferred bidder but failed to come up with the US$6.9 million deposit by the deadline. Energy World International is now the preferred bidder.