Plans to build a hydro-electric project in this country took a step closer to reality with a key Opposition Parliamentarian saying he stands ready to support the Amaila Falls deal
Amid the logjam over the deal and the developer threatening to pull out if there is no national consensus, key Opposition Member of Parliament Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday said he would support the project but he wants Government to back down on its demand to raise the loan guarantees ceiling to $150 billion.
“If Government drops the amount to a realistic $40-50 billion, I am inclined to support the Amaila Falls project. This country has long wanted to build a hydro-project. We have the resources. But we always say it’s too expensive. I would support the project. Once the Inter-American Development Bank gives the green light for it, as then I would be sure of the technical soundness of the project, I would support it. All I ask is that the debt ceiling be not raised more than $50 billion. I would not give in to that demand of $150 billion, as who knows where $100 billion could disappear to“, Ramjattan said.
Since Forbes Burnham’s 1970’s efforts to build the Mazaruni Hydro project, this country has flirted with self-sufficiency in energy generation, with no success to date.
Noting that “it’s time we develop our hydro-electric potential”, Ramjattan also said he would press for Government to fast-track laws to allow for local government elections, as part of a Parliamentary compromise deal. Local government elections have not been held for the past 19 years.
Ramjattan, who is leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), says he is willing to compromise, and he hopes Government, in the interest of national development, would also be willing to give in. “I am willing, from my point of view, to support Amaila Falls if Government agrees to drop its demand to raise the (loans guarantee) ceiling to $150 billion,” he said in an exclusive comment to Stabroek News.
A Parliamentary stalemate hangs over the country as Government and the Opposition clash over Amaila Falls, over laws to allow for Local Government elections, which have not been held for 20 years, and over the raising of the loans guarantee.
Should Government win the support of the AFC, the Amaila Falls project would become the largest development project in this nation’s history.