Local January 15, 2016 | 8:16 am

Top Dominican official admits coal plants 98% halted

Santo Domingo.- State-ownedElectric Utility (CDEEE) CEO Ruben Jimenez Bichara on Thursday admitted financialdifficulties faced by the government to continue construction of the twocoal-fired power plants at Punta Catalina, southern Peravia province.

The official said howeverthat the difficulties are surmountable and that the government began talks fornew funding to resume work in the project.

The official respondedto allegations that the Government faces serious financial difficulties tocontinue construction of the two 720-megawatt power plants, and thatcontractors have had to lay off as many as 2,000 workers.

Interviewed on the phoneby Z101FM, Jimenez said just like a first funding of US$200 million was obtainedby a pool of European banks, the authorities will also receive other financingfor the project.

He said the funds paidthe suppliers of the turbines, the generators and of construction equipment,for which the new funding will pay local contractors and suppliers. "So farthe work has been reduced by 98%, but the injection of new resources was managedto reactivate to previous levels."

He said new additional fundingwould materialize in a few weeks.

Jimenez clarifiedhowever that the Utility will not be the plants´ financial manager, andstressed that the funds will pay the approved bills and the factories based inthe country where the creditor banks operate, which for the first disbursement areall European.

Bonds

Jimenez didn’t rule outa possibility of the proposal for the government to seek funding through a bond,but noted that Congress set a ceiling on bond issues in the 2016 Budget.

He said however that itthat proposal materializes, it wouldn’t be at soft rates as those obtainedthrough a sovereign bond.