President Donald Ramotar on Monday said that the government will not give up on the Amaila Falls Hydropower project and that he is prepared to meet again with the opposition to thrash out lingering questions on it.
The President was speaking during an interview with NCN and amid days of salvoes aimed by the government at the opposition for voting down a bill creating a reserve area for the Amaila Falls project and a motion to lift the debt ceiling to accommodate debt to be taken on for the hydro project.
Government spokesmen had made it appear that the opposition’s no vote signalled the end of the project but Ramotar made it clear that this was not so.
“We are not giving up; we are doing everything that we can in order to save this project…we have to broaden our vision…all of the new infrastructural projects that we have embarked on have the potential to take the country’s development to another level,” the Head of State said.
“Part of the reason that we are not developing faster than we are at this point in time, is the unavailability of cheaper energy…this project (Amaila Falls Hydropower project) will have a positive impact on every single Guyanese,” the President said.
Ramotar said, according to GINA, that his Government is ready to hold discussions and make compromises, but maintained that a “distinction has to be made between compromise and political blackmail.”
He also signalled that his Government is prepared to again engage with the Opposition, making available the technical experts to go over the details of the project.
Meanwhile, Works Minister Robeson Benn took the media yesterday on a tour of the Amaila Falls access road and declared it to be 67% complete. The road is far behind its timetable for completion and is way over budget.
The opposition parties have based their no vote for the Amaila matters on the grounds that they first want one of the prospective financiers, the Inter-American Development Bank to give the green light. They have also argued that that key questions like the final cost to the consumer of power from Amaila and whether GPL would be able to distribute power efficiently are still to be settled.
The consequences to the country of the failure of the project given its scale – US$840M – have also raised concerns for the opposition.
Two well-known commentators on the project chartered accountant Christopher Ram and analyst Ramon Gaskin are to hold a press conference today which will address some of the assertions being made by the government.
The opposition vote against the two Amaila matters also sparked controversy after President Ramotar used the word terrorism to describe their actions.