APNU MP Carl Greenidge says the main opposition is not responsible for the IDB’s decision to discontinue its due diligence study of the Amaila Falls Hydro Power Project or the resulting scuttling of a public review of the venture that it was never informed about.
Reacting to the decision of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to discontinue its long-awaited due diligence study on the project, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh in a statement last week blamed APNU’s decision to oppose the Amaila related bill and motion for the bank’s decision to discontinue its work.
According to Singh, “they were being asked to join a consensus which would let the IDB due diligence study finish its last weeks of work.
And perhaps most importantly, they were being asked to join a consensus which would have let the six-week public review of the Amaila Falls Hydro project take place,” as part of transferring the bulk of Guyana’s equity contribution from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF).
But, in a letter published in the Sunday Stabroek, Greenidge, who is the main opposition’s Shadow Finance Minister, argued that contrary to Singh’s claims, the IDB ceased work on the due diligence study after developer Sithe Global decided to withdraw from the project.
Sithe, which made parliamentary consensus on the Amaila related bill and motion a pre-condition for its continued participation in the project, backed out after APNU refused to vote with the AFC and government for their passage in the National Assembly.
The IDB was undertaking the due diligence of the project as a result of a request by the government for a loan of which Sithe was to be the client, Greenidge pointed out in his letter. Since the IDB’s decision to undertake the study was prompted by the company’s application for a loan to facilitate the development of the project, Sithe’s withdrawal rendered the loan irrelevant and the due diligence ceased.
Furthermore, Greenidge said, IDB country representative Sophie Makonnen had indicated that the due diligence, slated for completion on July 31st, was delayed for several reasons, including the incomplete status of the key Amaila Falls access road.
As for the six-week review mentioned by Singh, Greenidge said APNU had never been notified by either the government or the IDB of the intention of having a public review which would be dependent on APNU’s support for the project. He also questioned the wisdom behind such a condition, and how a process and review, apparently agreed between the government and Norway and which “would have seen the politicians take a back seat,” could supplant the right of the National Assembly to approve public expenditure.
“The suggestion that up now the government had indicated that the process had several steps, one of which was to have a six week public review (presumably before the parliament pronounced on the matter?), is patently untrue,” Greenidge said, while challenging Singh to point to one single piece of correspondence or public statement from the President or himself that makes mention of the agreed public review. “Let me make it clear. This option is a product of Dr Singh’s imagination and as such it is unbecoming. It is an insult to all observers and the Guyanese public,” he added.
He said that the only request made of APNU by the government was for the party to support the vague parliamentary measures related to Amaila. “APNU was never asked to pronounce on nor did it prevent or seek to prevent an unannounced public review,” Greenidge maintained, while charging that the minister is either attempting to “goad the parliament into an argument over the ‘final step’ that never existed, or trying to convince the Norwegians to disburse the US$100 million in spite of the withdrawal of Sithe.”