Chief spokesman on economics and finance for the main opposition, APNU, Carl Greenidge says the government failed to persuade legislators on the merits of the Amaila hydro project after prospective developer Sithe Global set the condition of political consensus for continuing with it.
He was speaking to Stabroek News yesterday in the wake of the pull-out by Sithe Global as developer of the US$858.2 million, 165 megawatt hydro scheme. APNU on Wednesday voted against the Hydro Electric Power Amendment Bill 2013 and a motion to increase the ceiling of loan guarantees, unlike the AFC, which voted yes to the two measures along with the government.
“Sithe Global did caution since early 2012 that unless there was consensus they would withdraw,” Greenidge said. “In these circumstances it was up to Sithe Global to make sure that their partnership with the Government was saleable,” said Greenidge. “It was government’s responsibility to put together a package that was acceptable,” said Greenidge.
He reiterated that his party wanted clearer explanations of the mechanism used to arrive at the conclusion that the final tariffs to the consumers would be lower than they are today. He said that in meetings with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), officials of the Bank could not give the assurance that tariffs were not going to increase after the coming into operation of the hydro dam.
Greenidge said too that the financial package for the project drew its fair share of criticism from the party with regards to the apportioning of debt and equity.
Further, Greenidge said that the President and the government are refusing to acknowledge that the Board of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and many other state entities must be depoliticised to perform adequately.
“While the government was prepared to provide some information, the areas of concern have not been sufficiently addressed,” said Greenidge.
“What the government did with Amaila is what they did with the Marriott (Hotel),” he said, referring to the lack of transparency in some respects of the project. He called the bill and motion on Wednesday as “tangential” to the Amaila project saying, “one has to do with putting aside a piece of land and the other to do with a guarantee to Sithe Global for the power sold to GPL,” he said. “There was no hydro power project document before the House,” he said.
“This is a government which is preoccupied with perpetuating hoaxes,” he said. “As such, I have no difficulty with Sithe Global’s position,” said Greenidge.
He stated during his contribution of the debate on the debt ceiling motion in Parliament that the price of the project might have shot past the US$1 billion mark.
Observers say that Sithe Global’s exit can have a chilling effect on international investors worried about the ability of the minority government to deliver commitments on big ticket projects such as the Marriott Hotel, the specialty hospital and the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.