THE EDITOR: Sir,
The long-standing and near-cultural belief that anything foreign is better has always influenced economy building in Jamaica. Local businesses have always been shut down because of better investment climates being created for international business hopefuls to the ultimate detriment of 'country-driven' employment and, thus, the downturn of true independent handling of affairs. This, however, is a different debate.
More pertinent on the foreign supremacy issue is our seeming reverential obeisance to international policies and organisations. This, more than ever, seems to be the case in the looming energy saga, particularly between the Office of Utilities Regulation and the most recent accepted bidder, Energy World International (EWI). Previously, the EWI, which offers a projected US$14.56 cents per kilowatt-hour as opposed to the current US$0.40 cents via their 360-megawatt proposal, was not in the standing for competition. In fact, they made a late entry, was accommodated and has now ousted Azurest Cambridge, which failed to furnish the requite funds for project commencement by the October 3 deadline.
In an interview on the October 7, Hot 102 broadcast of Jamaica Speaks, Trevor Munroe, discussed the legitimacy of the EWI with Michael West, reputable journalist for numerous fiscal periodicals in Australia. According to West, the EWI is the largest shareholder of the Hong Kong-based Energy World Corporation (EWC) which, he says, has not been forthcoming with the actual construction of LNG plants in the Philippines, Sri Lanka and other countries under contract. West, who has done extensive research on the EWC and its sub-companies, all run by Stewart Elliott, said that the EWI has documented claims of partnership with countries and other organisations which have been terminated, and has presented these and other reports to prospective countries, perhaps even Jamaica, which were not consistent with the facts. It goes without saying that the OUR's acceptance of the EWI was far too carefree. Or is it something else?
How trustworthy is the EWI? If given the go-ahead, will they honour the contract and actually construct the LNG plant in the time allotted? Or will they use the initiation of the Jamaica partnership as a means of increasing their hoard in the stock exchange, and later leave us wondering when the energy plant will come to fruition?
We demand that the OUR and respective financial personnel thoroughly investigate the accounts and track record of the company before a decision we may regret is made.
Malvern PO, St Elizabeth