A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) remains concerned that government is not supplying all of the necessary and needed information for the party to make a decision on whether or not to support the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project.
This was stated by APNU Member of Parliament Joe Harmon at a press conference held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, even as the AFC signalled that its support for the critical Hydro Electric (Amendment) Bill was not entirely divorced from its push for local government polls.
Harmon spoke of a meeting between officials of Sithe Global – the developer of the hydro project – and opposition parties in Parliament at which many of the lingering questions were addressed. However, opposition parties made clear that there were issues that could not have been addressed by Sithe but by government itself.
Speaking about the meeting on Wednesday, Harmon said, “The team’s obvious remit was to convince the opposition parties that they (APNU and AFC) needed to support the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.”
“The details which emerged as a result of the interaction with opposition political parties made clear the massive public relations scam the Government is engaged in. Apart from the fact that: the project cost had moved from US$840 million in June, 2013 to US$858 million in July, 2013; that the design of the Hydro plant was still being finalized; that the price of 11 US cents per Kilowatt hour is a figure at which the Amaila Falls Hydro Project will deliver power to GPL; and that the cost to the consumer is not yet determined,” said Harmon.
“The major thrust of the PPP/C propaganda was that the Sithe Global and the Blackstone team were asked to secure our support for the Bill and Motion in Parliament concerning the Amaila Falls Hydro Project,” he said. Harmon said that it was explained to the team that the documents before the National Assembly at the July 18, 2013 sitting did not relate directly to decisions Sithe Global and Blackstone Group had to make concerning their involvement in the Amaila project.
An APNU statement said: “The PPP/C is now in a fit to explain the decision it made to take over this project knowing fully well that it would suck the lifeblood out of this country…the details that are now emerging have made bare the lies being peddled by the PPP/C Government that consumers will see a reduction in their light bills of between 20 and 40 percent. This is simply not true.”
APNU posed the question how it was that a project that started off as US$340 million is now at US$858.2 million and may end up at over US$1.5 billion while still being rated at 165 megawatts capacity.
The AFC has signalled its intention to support the Bill and Motion once Government could convince them that the raising of the debt ceiling will be applicable for the Amaila project and not used in any other scenario. The AFC is also hoping that Government will accept their proposed amendment to bring the quantum of the guarantee down.
The AFC, however, yesterday indicated that it will be supporting the amendment to the Hydro Electric (Amendment) Bill, while saying it will expect the government in turn to support all of the local government bills.
AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan told a news conference yesterday that it went through “the hydro amendment and we have been satisfied and indicated we have supported that as it is now with the amendment.”
Ramjattan told reporters that they have met with Sithe Global and Blackstone Group and that they are still in the process of deliberating the concerns given by Sithe Global on the project. He said that the company indicated that they want a guarantee that any shortfall by GPL to pay for the electricity supplied from Amaila will be taken care by the government.
He said that they can understand Sithe Global’s position “but that now cannot mean GPL will have to go borrow $150B, that is too much and we have a huge concern there. It has to be less sweeping… it has to be pinned on GPL and secondly that big number has to come down…”
He continued: “We have a situation at this stage where GPL with all its loss…manages to make at least US$120 million from consumers so we feel it will be in a position to pay for Amaila electricity. But in case there is a shortfall, Sithe wants government to take the responsibility.”
Ramjattan also said that the AFC would like to see the local government bills be supported by the government assuming that they are going to support the hydro bill. “We want to see that as part of the deal all local government bills be passed as is,” he added.
AFC executive Moses Nagamotoo, who was also present, said that they have taken a position that they would wait on the Inter American Development Bank (IDB)report to be made public before they write on to the sealing the guarantee, Ramjattan spoke about.
He stated that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) wants to “paint the issue as a natural disaster” for propaganda purposes and to feed the appetite of its congress for confrontation politics.
Nagamootto said that they “would not be disturbed by the hysteria they are trying to whip up in relation to this project. This motion that comes to the parliament for us to guarantee $150 billion that could be incurred as a possible debt by a public corporation or company is the government asking us to give them a signed black cheque to incur debt. There is no doubt as to the motive here. The government would want to bailout its entire troubled corporations and company…”
He also indicated that they are not coming back to parliament during the recess if the government did not get its work done properly. He said “their Anti-Money Laundering Act and other things they are seeking to put on the table…we are not gonna deal with these mater under threats…..”