In response to a letter from Dominic Gaskin, Treasurer and Executive Member of the AFC in the Stabroek News dated August 27, 2013, we must say that we knew from the very beginning that the task that lies ahead to change Guyana meant breaking from the absurd tradition that all must follow the political leaders wherever they want to take us, even if it is into the Demerara River or the Atlantic Ocean.
It appears that Mr Gaskin and others are stuck in that tradition which in no small way has contributed to his dogmatic positions in forcing a financial imposition on the GPL consumers and the Guyanese taxpayers. This type of group think approach is very dangerous for the poor and the working class in Guyana who are struggling to feed, house and clothe themselves and their children. We say yes, to hydropower but at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer. The Berbice Bridge toll is a heavy financial burden imposed on the people by the government.
Mr Gaskin cannot with any certainty tell the people what they will be paying for light bills in the first 12 years of Amaila, but he wants to knock the alternative view that this is a rotten deal for the working poor of Guyana. As he rightly said, he believes more in the IDB officials than the financial experts in Guyana.
In his support for the wretched Amalia Falls hydropower project, Mr Gaskin has ignored its fatal flaws as identified by several accountants and financial analysts including Chris Ram, Ramon Gaskin and Sase Narine Singh, and economists including Tarron Khemraj as well as the valuable contribution from one of the Caribbean’s most distinguished economics professors, Dr Clive Thomas. No one would want to deny the completion of the IDB due diligence report but not at the cost of compromising the nation’s financial security for 20 years.
Mr Gaskin wrote that we have “deliberately misused the term interest rate to refer to what is actually a rate of return on investment or equity.”
Even the financially uninformed will recognize that the terminology was an oversight but the principle is the same – financial outflow (cash leaving the pockets of the GPL consumers and deposited in the bank account of Sithe Global).
Whether this increase in light bills that GPL consumers will have to pay, be it interest or rate of return or management fees, the principle remains the same –cash outflow to the tune of some $130 billion. Why the attempt by Mr Gaskin to split hairs? Who is he fooling?
Further, Mr Gaskin has chosen to personally attack us on whether there was a bill or a motion on the floor, but again he is caught splitting hairs, since in whatever shape or form it comes, it is a legislative instrument that was meant to increase the debt ceiling. That is a contingent liability for every man, woman and child. It was only this week it was revealed that the capital cost of this deal will now surpass US$1 billion. In such a situation, it is not a matter of whether this contingent liability would have been transformed into a debt, it is a matter of when.
But why pick on us who continue to advocate in no uncertain terms for the poor and the working class? Why not nit-pick about what one of his own AFC councillors in Region 6 has said, and who has criticized the AFC since the last election? It appears as though Mr Gaskin’s pen has run out of ink when it comes to this councillor and hose in the PPP who have mercilessly criticized the AFC.
We leave the reading public to decide what they want ‒ the Brassington deal with the full and unconditional support of the Dominic Gaskins or a reformulated national hydro-
power project as put forth by the financial and economic experts.
Harish S Singh