I will be no sitting duck - Paulwell
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
DECLARING THAT he will no longer "stay in the back seat" when it comes to the issue of procurement, Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell yesterday vowed to take a new policy to Cabinet next week to give the minister a defined role in the process.
"It's like I am a sitting duck. I have to await a process. The Jamaican people have me under pressure to get the price of electricity down. It's not the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation); it's not the OCG (Office of the Contractor General).
"Anything that I do, my reputation is on the line, … but the fact is, it cannot be that my hands are tied behind me," Paulwell reasoned.
In the wake of the challenges bedevilling the process to nail down an investor to construct a plant to provide 381 megawatts of electricity to the national grid, Paulwell said he now accepts, going forward, that procurement has to be separated from the role and function of a regulator.
"I think we have to be clear that the regulator is independent of those processes. The policy and the law now allow for that," he said.
Paulwell told journalists during an interview in his office in Gordon House yesterday that he was not decrying the role of the OUR in the process to identify a preferred bidder.
The OUR recommended that Energy World International (EWI) be granted a licence, and Paulwell has since issued a licence to the company.
The energy minister indicated that it would be unfair for him to have the task of delivering on cheap energy when his only role in the process was to grant a licence.
"That is unworkable," he maintained.
"In the future, as we look forward to getting waste to energy, we have to get more renewable energy. We are looking now beyond the 381 megawatts to coal. I have to play a more leading role in that process. I am not going to be in the back seat any longer," he added.