It is a positive step that analysis by the people of the Amaila project has led to the withdrawal of Sithe Global
The opinions of concern or fear emanating from various quarters with regards to the withdrawal by Sithe Global from the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project (AFHP) and the consequences for foreign investment have to be examined in the context of what brought us here. Some of which are:
1) The absence of due diligence regarding the project:
2) Government has not been honest and forthcoming with information;
3) Cost-starting out at a base of US$400M in 2008 and moving to US$858M in 2013 and rising;
4) The projected cost to Guyana of some US$2.4B over a period of 20 years;
5) Overpriced compared with others around the world;
6) Using another financing structure that includes more equity partners, as against just Sithe Global and Government;
7) The hallmark of a Rip-off scheme- government (people/taxpayers) investing approximately 80 percent of capital but would end up owning 40 percent;
8) Government could not guarantee supply all year round because of dry season;
9) Government admitted that after one year demand will exceed AFHP supply;
10) Credibility of the claim to provide 10,000 jobs;
11) The project will be outdated by 2019.
The leaders of special interest, its agencies, and the executive have ignored the above concerns and findings or hoped they didn’t have to account to the citizenry. They were determined to have the project in its current configuration regardless of the consequences. The fact that the people having publicly analysed this project and highlighted the above has resulted in the withdrawal of Sithe Global must be seen as a positive step in democratising our society.
In a democratic society leaders must be guided by the constitution and laws and in this case where some were prepared to violate laws, bylaws, and standing orders to achieve their end, the people remained unrelenting and Sithe has lived up to its promise that unless there is consensus among the political groups it will not proceed. And while some think this has negative potential consequences, it must be said that by this action Guyana is now strategically placed to attract businesses who respect and subject themselves to standards and probity established by international institutions.
This incident serves as a lesson for all of us. It is a victory for Guyana and our ideals as a people. It exemplifies people’s power. For though the company has taken its exit it sends a message to investors that while the country is open for investments, business shall be done consistent with international norms, standards, decorum and respect for the citizens of the host country. This is also sending a message to the politicians that they are not rulers; they are representatives of the people. Some continue to fail to realise that effective 26th May 1966 this country is no longer being managed by rulers but governed by the people and their role in the seat of government is to act on behalf of the people and not dictate to the people.
This incident has shown that when a people understand their role, power and rights they can relentlessly pursue and achieve what’s justly theirs. In this exercise we have clearly seen that voices emanating from the society can influence the outcome of decision(s) in the interest of the people. For while Clive Thomas, Ramon Gaskin, Christopher Ram, Janet Bulkan, Anand Goolsaran, Kenrick Hunte, Asquith Rose, Harish Singh, GTUC, independent media, et al have weighed in on the matter and were not invited to the hallowed halls of the National Assembly to address our parliamentarians as was done for Sithe, some of our MPs listened. And this must be seen as the beginning of the people’s trek in holding our elected officials accountable and having them listen to us and represent our interests.
The time has come for our politicians to stop, think and temper the arrogance inculcated over the years to feel that once elected their responsibility is to themselves, friends and special interests. For the time is now to realise governance in today’s world is by the people and for the people.
For those who believe that once they have voted there is nothing else they can do but leave it to the politicians to decide what is right or wrong, this exercise has shown that democracy is not only about having elections every five years but how business is conducted day by day and the citizenry being ever vigilant to ensure it is properly conducted.
We, the citizens, must see this as a major step in democratising our governance system and today all are urged to continue this process as we seek to further immerse ourselves in local and national discussions to develop a change in the culture and behaviour of our elected officials.