President Donald Ramotar last night made another appeal to Leader of the Opposition David Granger on salvaging the collapsing Amaila hydropower project and wants a meeting between the two sides to thrash out the outstanding matters.
In a statement released by the Government Information Agency, Ramotar said he agrees with A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) on the importance of two issues: the belief that the Amaila Falls project is likely to condemn Guyanese to excessive indebtedness; and the belief that the Amaila Falls project will not “provide assurance that the final cost of power to the consumer will be appreciably lower than the current tariff.”
“Earlier this week, I spoke of how I was urging a national consensus in support of the Amaila Falls Hydropower project, and of how it was time to put partisan politics aside in the interests of Guyanese for generations to come,” said President Ramotar.
“Towards that end, I spoke with the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Granger, who said that APNU would only be able to change their position on Amaila if their outstanding issues were resolved,” he said.
“I agree with APNU that these two issues are the most important ones. They are easy to resolve. Therefore, to help build consensus on these two outstanding points, I suggest that Mr. Granger’s team and a team from the Government meet to once and for all settle these issues, and to publicly communicate the meeting’s outcomes,” he said in the statement.
“I hope that it will be possible to jointly agree that:
– On indebtedness, Guyana is incurring no debt from the Amaila Falls Hydro project. That is one of its strongest benefits for the taxpayer.
– On the consumer tariff, Amaila Falls will reduce the tariff paid by GPL for electricity by 40% for the first twelve years after operations begin, by over 70% for the eight years after that and by over 90% for the eighty years after that,” said the President.
He added that the reduction in the GPL tariff will allow for the removal of the subsidy that the taxpayer has to give GPL today and allow for a pass-through of the remaining savings to the consumer, which will result in a reduction of over 20% in the electricity bills of Guyanese businesses and consumers within two years of the start of Amaila’s operations.
“After the meeting, if Mr. Granger and his team agree that both their stated concerns are being met, then Guyana can put the rancour of recent weeks behind us, and forge a strong, unified, national consensus in favour of the Amaila Falls project,” said the President. It is unclear whether Sithe Global would still be interested even if this was to happen.
Contacted last night, Granger said that the President’s statement oversimplified the matter and just deals with two of the concerns that the APNU raised. He said that the President’s statement did not address the fact that no comprehensive document was presented to Parliament for scrutiny and debate neither has the final design of the project been addressed.
“The [APNU press statement on Monday] states clearly: ‘APNU is aware that no comprehensive document on the AFHP has ever been presented for debate in the National Assembly. The Partnership found it impossible to give its unequivocal support for a project when only two peripheral matters had been presented for debate. The Partnership iterates its concerns about the financial arrangements for the project, the final tariff to average consumers, design of the plant, the final cost of the project and GPL’s ability to deliver electricity to consumers,” Granger said.
“I have read the statement attributed to the President. It does not address APNU’s concerns about the “design of the plant, the final cost of the project and GPL’s ability to deliver electricity to consumers.”
He said that as long as these issues remain outstanding the APNU could not support the project.