Up to press time this morning, the National Assembly had passed one Amaila hydro project measure after the government secured support from the AFC but failed to convince APNU.
This leaves the question as to whether that would be a good enough result for the developer of the project, Sithe Global.
Sithe has said it will pull out of the US$858M controversy-wracked project unless all three parties support the two Amaila measures.
At around 1.30 am, MPs were still locked in gruelling exchanges after an exhausting day of twists and turns that began with boisterous protests outside of Parliament and saw the passage of four historic local government bills.
The Amaila matters, one dealing with the reserve area around the hydropower site and the other addressing loan guarantees for public corporations, were resuscitated after a ground-breaking application yesterday by Prime Minister Sam Hinds before the National Assembly. Bills and motions that have been voted down cannot be brought back in the same parliamentary session but Speaker Raphael Trotman yesterday permitted it to go to a vote because of the importance of the matter and the Alliance For Change sided with the ruling PPP/C for both matters to be presented again for debate. APNU voted against bringing back the two matters.
At this point, APNU and the AFC then insisted that the business of the sitting be re-ordered to allow the four local government bills to be addressed first. The PPP/C then sought time to discuss the request and subsequently agreed that the local government bills would be debated first.
After those four bills were passed, debate on the Hydro-electric Power Bill 2013 began at about 10.30 pm and concluded at 1.30 am with the AFC voting with PPP/C in support of the bill while APNU voted against.
APNU MP Carl Greenidge, speaking after PM Hinds, maintained that his party could not support the bill.
Despite explanations by Hinds about the benefits the completed Amaila Hydro Power Project would bring, Greenidge stated that his party could not support the bill for a myriad of reasons.
Among those reasons Greenidge said was the fact that the APNU, based on information provided, was not fully convinced that the project would lead to a reduction in power tariff levels.
He also said that the party was not convinced that the financial size of the project would not increase, and added that skepticism concerning the Guyana Power and Light Inc.’s (GPLs) ability to efficiently perform were also among their concerns.
Greenidge said that Hinds conflated the cost of generation with the cost to the consumer and pointed out that these are two different things.
Greenidge said the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) – one of the intended financiers of the project – did not give an assurance that the price to the consumer would go down.
He criticised government on the cost of the project and blamed the financial architecture.
He said too that the burden of the transmission and distribution network for the project is causing it to increase in cost. He said Government should have examined a different financing arrangement for the project. He added that government participation on the board does not reflect the equity that government put in.
He also expressed disappointment with GPL in terms of losses and said an intended US10 million project by the IDB could not bring losses down.
Prime Minister Hinds declared that the Amaila project was worthy of the unprecedented move in Parliament yesterday to revisit the two matters.
He said that government was surprised about the developments which led to the July 18 rejection of the two matters when they were first brought to the House.
Hinds said if Amaila does not go forward Guyana could lose the money made available through the Norway-financed GRIF forest fund. He said that the deadline for this is November.
He added that Government is prepared to forego its return on equity in order to keep the cost to the consumer down.
Responding to critics who say the project is not meant to be a stand alone one, Hinds said that there is a plan to network with a Brazilian project and said that this is some 10 years away.
Hinds also expects self-generators to return to the grid
The motion to increase the debt ceiling was also up for consideration this morning. The AFC has said that it was willing to support an increase to $50 billion, as opposed to the $150 billion which has been requested by government. APNU is likely to vote no.