The letter published in the September 4 edition of your newspaper, captioned ‘Nitpicking’ signed by Messrs Asquith Rose and Harish S Singh, purports to be a response to one written by myself, but touches very briefly on the only two issues I raised. Instead, it embarks on a furious fantasy of wild assertions that simply could not be inferred from my previous letter. I must therefore conclude that they are responding to something other than my letter, and are once again seeking to mislead your readers with their broad, baseless and incorrect statements.
I am not sufficiently in tune with the logic of Messrs Rose and Singh to offer suitable responses to all they have written, and will therefore stay with the original issue. In my letter I identified a false statement as the premise on which these gentlemen were advancing an argument against the Alliance For Change. They now respond that this is merely splitting hairs between a bill or a motion since “in whatever shape or form it comes, it is a legislative instrument that was meant to increase the debt ceiling.” For the record, my point had nothing to do with whether the AFC approved a bill as distinct from a motion, but with the simple fact that the Amaila project has never been presented to parliament for approval in its entirety – as implied by them to further their argument that the AFC has approved the project.
It has clearly become very important for a number of persons to create this impression so that they can fit the AFC squarely into the Pro-Amaila box, and then apply all the negative aspects of the project to the party. Perhaps they believe that if this is done with enough intensity it may cause the public to forget that the AFC, back in April of this year, voted to cut from the National Budget Estimates the sums earmarked for the government’s investment in the Amaila project.
At the time, the party listed a number of concerns and took a decision to await the outcome of the IDB’s analysis of the project before approving this capital investment. This parliamentary action has never been reversed and therefore still stands.
Notwithstanding its position, the AFC still voted in favour of funding the access road to Amaila and, to the best of my knowledge, so did APNU. The completion of the access road was said to be critical to finalizing the financing arrangements for the project, and the AFC took a position to allow this process to proceed. The AFC applied a similar approach to the next set of parliamentary measures meant to support the project, all the while expressing its dissatisfaction with a number of aspects of the project but maintaining its commitment to await the IDB’s analysis of the project. It is the AFC’s support for this second set of parliamentary measures which Messrs Rose and Singh wish your readers to believe represents the party’s full and unconditional support for the project. This is the googly they are hurling at the public.
The only other point raised in my letter was a minor one concerning their misuse of terminology to make comparisons between Sithe Global’s rate of return on equity to prevailing commercial lending rates. The point was fairly straightforward, but their response suggests that they have completely missed it. You cannot substitute trout for lobster in a discussion on food prices and then turn around and say it was an oversight but the principle is the same since the purchaser was allergic to seafood. This is absurd, and does not address the fact that an incorrect comparison was used in an effort to mislead the reader on a matter in which we could all have benefited from the facts.
I personally have no idea what the going rates are for a public-private partnership investment of this nature and am therefore curious to know the truth.
It is my personal belief that the aborted project lies somewhere between the terrible disaster portrayed by its opponents and the wonderful solution described by its proponents. Just where can only be determined by a careful examination of the facts and a clear understanding of all the assumptions and projections on which the project was based. Biases for or against the project are to be expected but should be contained within open minds if any useful engagement on the matter is to be had and sensible decisions reached.
If Messrs Rose and Singh think it is useful to continue this discussion along the lines of their latest effort then I wish them luck. I will not be engaging them further.