Alliance For Change Leader Khemraj Ramjattan was yesterday adamant that his party would not be supporting the government’s efforts to increase the guarantee of loans from $1 billion to $150 billion.
At a party press conference, he said that the government was recklessly tying the loans guarantee ceiling to the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) when the two were in no way connected.
Ramjattan contended that the Inter-American Develop-ment Bank’s (IDB) feasibility study made no mention of increasing the guarantee of loans and that since the AFC was waiting on the IDB’s due diligence on the project it made little sense to support the government’s whim.
He emphasised yesterday “we are not going to in any way support the upping of the $1 billion by $149 billion guarantee to public corporations, that has absolutely no tie with the Amaila Falls and when we met the IDB, the IDB indicated quite clearly what they would like to see…they said it is not in any way attached to Amaila Falls.”
Instead, Ramjattan said that the government was promoting its own agenda that would allow the government to guarantee loans to corporations with little consequences if the motion was to be passed by the National Assembly. He said that the government’s continuous bridging of two separate matters—AFHP and the guarantee of loans was a “grand deception.
The motion to raise the ceiling for the guarantee of loans to $150B was one of two key Amaila measures thwarted by the opposition in Parliament.
Ramjattan warned that the government haste in pushing through legislation without waiting on the IDB’s decision and feasibility study was because there was a deep level of corruption with the plan. Ramjattan said that the IDB could potentially invest US$180 million in the AFHP and the bank would make its final decision in October. However, he charged that the Guyanese government seemed bent on approving the ill- conceived plan prior to the IDB’s commitment. Ramjattan said that the IDB was currently responsible not only for the feasibility study, but also testing in the area and various other research aimed at ensuring that environmental conservation wasn’t not ignored in the AFHP construction.
He noted that the government held its Amaila forum at the International Conference Centre on Thursday touting it as a venue to ask questions but that the media was not allowed to ask any though a Stabroek News reporter was able to pose one. “They don’t want scrutiny and that is the entire point of this project”, Ramjattan charged. The government has said that the forum was not intended for media houses to ask questions as they had had numerous other opportunities.
Ramjattan added that it was the AFC’s obligation to continue being prudent and await the IDB’s decision on the AFHP. The AFC Leader further said that for a development bank to loan US$180 million meant that due diligence was a priority, which seemingly the government has been ignoring.
Ramjattan stated that the AFHP’s cost was continuously a nagging issue. He said that it was recently learnt that Pakistan would be constructing a 145-megawatt hydro-power facility to the tune of US$400 million, far cheaper than what the AFHP is projecting.
Executive member Cathy Hughes stated that although the situation has become a tit for tat between the government and the combined opposition, the AFC would maintain its role in scrutinising the government’s actions.
She noted that the passage of the four local government bills was a long overdue concern affecting people’s day-to-day lives and that the government had to compromise and could no longer operate as though it had a majority in the National Assembly.