Gov’t terribly disappointed with opposition’s stance on Amaila project – President –will not abandon pursuit of their buy – in on key projects
Georgetown, GINA, August 20, 2013
Head of State Donald Ramotar said he will never abandon his quest to get the opposition’s support for critical development projects that could simply, if supported, transform the lives of thousands of people, even as he expressed his Government’s disappointment with their position on the Amaila Falls Hydro Power (AFHP) project.
Everyone knows that cheap energy is indispensable for rapid social and economic development, he said, and this has great potential for helping the manufacturing sector, agricultural processing, to increase export more and attract more investments. Such a project would have propelled the country’s development, he stated.
During a recent interview on Television for Guyana (TVG), the Head of State said that, “This was a case where we had a bird in the hand, and we could have developed that (AFHP) in the interest of our people and our country”.
Asked about his overtures to the opposition to get their buy-in on the project, the president said that contrary to statements emanating from them, he met with their representatives soon after he took office in 2011. He said that a technical presentation on the AFHP was given to them, and realising that the opposition’s technical personnel were absent, he offered to have them take away key documents for further perusal. “I even extended that offer for any of the other projects that we had on stream, that if they’re interested, I’m willing to set similar meetings to deal with any projects that the government may have.”
A report, titled “Economic and Financial Evaluation Study: Guyana-Amaila Falls Project”, prepared by Mercados Energeticos Consultores and commissioned by the Government in 2009, found that the Amaila Falls project would provide an economic rate of return of 33%, would reduce the Guyana Power and Light’s (GPL’s) average supply costs, and bring structural benefits to the power company. This report was shared with the Opposition as well.
Despite many meetings with the joint Opposition, access and availability of confidential information and indisputable facts showing the economic benefits of the project, APNU still denied the advantages of cheaper and reliable hydropower to the people of Guyana when it voted down the Hydro Electric Power (Amendment) Bill and debt ceiling motion. The investor, Sithe Global’s representatives even met with the opposition on the project. APNU said it was not changing its position as the project was shrouded in secrecy among other claims.
This subsequently led to the investor indicating that it was pulling out of the project which over 100 years would have saved the country about $17 billion and would generate 165 megawatts of clean power. The investor cited lack of political consensus for its pull out.
The opposition via parliament in 2012 approved money for the Amaila project access road, which was taken as a good sign, the president said since it was recognised that the road had to be built to access the falls on the Kuribrong River, Region Eight. The move by the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) to withdraw support at a critical time was somewhat unexpected, he noted since it was the Alliance For Change (AFC) which had initially voiced their concerns about the project.
The move by the opposition was very disappointing as all should have been able to rise above partisan interests and see the national interest, the president said.
When in opposition, the Head of State recalled that critical support was given by his party (PPP) when the then ruling administration moved to nationalise the sugar and bauxite industries due to the fact that they all recognised the importance of the national interest. Sadly however, this has not been reciprocated, he noted.
The support given by other stakeholders such as civil society, the private sector and other national bodies has been heartening the president noted.
“I think that’s very important, I think that’s giving clear signals to all those in authority that this is a very important project…this is one project that will touch the lives of every single Guyanese.”
It was noted that even those who are not on the power grid at present will benefit from the monies accrued from savings and the economy will expand to the benefit of all, he opined.