10 Feb 2007

Audit advises against selling Marshall Islands power company

11:53 am on 10 February 2007

A detailed performance audit of the Marshalls Energy Company by independent auditors has given the local power company an overall grade of B.

And in a report auditors have strongly urged the government to reject outside bids to buy the financially struggling utility company.

The audit report says the MEC has performed in a satisfactory manner in each of the various areas considering the size of the utility, the island environment and the developmental nature of MEC in the Marshall Islands.

The audit was undertaken following a request by the government to assess MEC's performance since it started in the mid-1980s, and to evaluate bids by SK Networks of South Korea and Pacific International Inc. of Majuro to buy into or take over management of MEC.

The report says over the years, MEC has used the profits from the sale of fuel to fishing vessels to cover losses in electricity production and maintain low power rates.

It urges against any change that will dilute the ownership share of the Marshall Islands government to the point that it no longer has the principal say in the direction of the utility.