Even though oil prices are ridiculously low as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it does not mean that the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) which would be purchasing fuel at a cheaper rate, can pass on discounts or cuts to customers’ electricity bills. This was confirmed with Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
The official told Guyana Standard that at the moment, GPL is in a “revenue crunch” and discounts would be detrimental to the company’s balance sheets.
Patterson said, “…Let me be honest with you, there is a problem we are facing. With COVID-19 and GPL’s suspension of disconnections, it means for last month we only collected 60 percent of our revenue because persons have decided that if you aren’t going to disconnect then we are not going to pay. So we have a revenue crunch as well…”
He added, “And I can understand that, people are using their money to buy more pressing stuff, sanitation, this and that. So for us to drop prices immediately, or this month it would be detrimental cash flow wise.”
The only relief customers have been able to receive thus far is the removal of Value Added Tax from their electricity bills for the next three months. This was announced by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) some weeks ago.
In recognition of the risks associated with the Coronavirus Disease, GPL has since initiated temporary modifications to various categories of its service delivery. Since March 16, GPL said that it would not accept applications for change of tenancy, termination of service, load increases/ decrease, and new services.
GPL had also said that its field staff within the Billing, Metering and Loss Reduction Departments will not be operational until April 2020, pending a review of the developments of the situation through the Ministry of Public Health. It said that the affected services will be Residential and Commercial Meter Installations, Disconnections, Field Investigations, and Meter Reading. The utility company said that those metered customer accounts that will not be read from March 16, 2020 or unsuccessfully read prior to March 16, 2020 will be estimated if a reading is not submitted via its Whatsapp Service.
To submit a Meter Reading via WhatsApp, customers can do so via this number : 6088575. Your account number also has to be provided. Customers are only required to do this during the reading period identified on the bill.