Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh said in a statement yesterday that the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) due diligence on the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project has ceased and blamed APNU for this development, a charge that the opposition group’s leader denied last evening.
“The IDB’s due diligence has now ceased and without it the public review of the Amaila Falls Hydropower
Project cannot move forward. APNU was asked to join a consensus which would let the independent IDB complete its last few weeks of work on the project’s due diligence,” the Minister said in a statement.
“Most importantly, it would have facilitated a six-week public review of the project,” the Minister added.
He said that the IDB’s views could have been used to resolve any issues that APNU had, having spent millions of dollars over many years involving hundreds of experts. “Instead, the party chooses to prevent the IDB from completing its work without reason,” he said.
“This is yet another clear indication that APNU’s goal is not to gain a better understanding of the project but to hold the public ransom for its own political mileage,” said the Minister.
“APNU is not being asked to support the finalisation of the project, rather they are being asked to join a political consensus that would move the project out of the exclusive realm of politicians in the last few months of its design.
They have been furnished with exactly the same information as Government and have been engaged over a year and a half with the expectation that they would actively participate in supporting the project,” the Minister’s statement said.
The Minister said that APNU’s refusal to accept President Donald Ramotar’s invitation to dialogue on the Amaila project is another indication that they are not serious about resolving this impasse that could otherwise positively change the course of Guyana’s future,” he said.
“Unless there is a rapid and radical change in APNU’s willingness to let the IDB do its work, and to let the people of Guyana have their say during the six-week public review process, it seems that the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project has died,” said the Minister.
However, Leader of the Opposition and of APNU David Granger refuted Singh’s statement in its entirety.
In a comment to Stabroek News, Granger said that APNU was never required by the IDB to join a consensus. “It is not party to any agreement with the IDB or any other agency, as a precondition to any aspect of AFHP,” he said.
“APNU had nothing to do with, and did not influence, IDB’s decision to cease its work on any matter in any way; any such decision by the IDB was made on its own initiative and for its own reasons,” he said.
He said that APNU did not choose “to prevent” or obstruct the IDB from conducting its due diligence and has no desire to prevent the IDB from completing its work. “APNU actually did assert that it was awaiting the IDB’s due diligence review before making a statement on the matter; the partnership, in fact, is looking forward to the IDB’s completion of its work,” he said.
“APNU did not let AHFP ‘die’; the partnership asserts that, from the start over eight years ago, the entire project was exclusively in the hands of the PPP/C administration which must bear full responsibility for misinforming the public, mismanaging the financial arrangements and miscalculating infrastructural planning for the construction of the road,” said Granger in response to the Minister’s statement.
“APNU calls on the PPP/C administration to bring a comprehensive bill before the National Assembly, providing full details of the management structure for the project, the financial architecture, the completion of the road, the final tariff to consumers and the restructuring of Guyana Power and Light Inc. to enable it to efficiently manage the distribution of electricity from AFHP, among other things,” he said. “APNU iterates its support for the efficient development of this country’s hydropower potential; it will continue to insist that the people of this country are fully informed of the implications of the project for the environment, the economy and their lives,” Granger said.
IDB Representative in Guyana Sophie Makonnen said two weeks ago that at that time talks with Sithe Global and with Government were still ongoing. “We haven’t yet come exactly to a position in the Bank as to what the situation is…we are still looking into it…” she said. “We are still in a very fluid place so I cannot say yes or no at this point,” Makonnen said, when asked whether the IDB’s involvement in the project has come to an end.
“The due diligence is part of what Sithe and everybody needed to move along. At this point in time we need to look at how we are going to manage that in the next few weeks,” she stated.
President of Sithe Global, Brian Kubeck had said two weeks ago that Sithe had been paying for the third party costs associated with the due diligence being conducted by IDB and the China Development Bank. “We are no longer funding these costs.
As such, neither IDB nor CDB are continuing their work on the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project”, he had told Stabroek News. Makonnen had later pointed out that the IDB was funding aspects of the due diligence.