Bekker: Invest Or Live With Power Outages
In dealing with the power outages, PNG Power Ltd managing director Flagon Bekker said to either live with these blackouts or invest “hundreds of millions of (US) dollars”.
“I personally believe the people of PNG are going to need to choose: start investing in the power system or live with blackouts that will get worse and worse,” he said. “There is no easy answer here.”
The hundreds of million may sound like a lot, but he said, “but we can do this as a business, without additional cost to the taxpayers if the PPL is allowed to reform”.
He added, “If we can become more of a commercially-driven business with less social responsibilities (for example) not related to making, transmitting, distributing and selling electricity, it will help.”
He proposed that consumers should also pay their bills on time - every month.
“We can then use this money for equipment and projects we need to refurbish, repair and rebuild our power system, networks and technologies,” he said. “Without cash in the bank, we simply cannot buy spare parts or stock emergency items, or do planned maintenance.”
Bekker who is just two months into his position said that the government was lagging in the plans of the country, and had a hard time securing funds.
“We understand that. We are working with the (departments of) Treasury, Finance to find a way to fund the working capital and capital investment needed to make the grid work better for our customers,” he said. “We are going to need to work together, prioritise this most essential of essential services for the future of our children. That is the way to look at it, I think.”
He added that PNG Power was not spending enough on the maintenance of its assets because of the issues with cash flow.
“The demand comes from many sources including social costs that a normal business (in the commercial space) does not have to carry,” he said. “This is also partly due to our structure which we are addressing in our Refocus Initiative, (and) to funding shortfalls. We are working on options to bring capital into the business. We are reviewing all options to do this but always based on the best value for the people of Papua New Guinea.”