Amaila Falls hydro on IDB radar again – President

The controversial Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) is once again being examined by the board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and they will hopefully be wrapping up soon, President Donald Ramotar says.

“As far as I know (the project) is back with the IDB Board and hopefully (the) IDB Board will be concluding on that in the not too distant future,” the president said at a news conference yesterday. He was hopeful that the developers, Sithe Global, who withdrew,  will be back on board. The president

Donald Ramotar
Donald Ramotar

pointed out that he has said before that government has not given up on Amaila.

“Although these are preliminary things I’m speaking about I don’t see that we have lost Sithe Global or that we have lost Blackstone as yet,” he said. If these companies choose not to participate then alternatives will be sought but at the moment “we are not convinced that we’ve lost them,” the president said.

In this year’s budget, US$80 million was listed as equity for the AFHP which is due to come from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund. It is a pity that the project did not start last year but it is still on the radar and “we hope to get it started this year hopefully,” the president said.

Before US-based Sithe Global pulled out here last year as the developer of the US$858.2 million, 165 megawatt hydro venture, the AFHP was shrouded in controversy as costs escalated.

Sithe Global pulled out of the AFHP last August citing a lack of political consensus. The company had issued explicit statements that unless all three parties in Parliament backed two measures for the controversial US$858M project it would pull out.  The measures were not fully supported and the company walked away.

The IDB is funding further studies relating to the AFHP but whether it would still provide further financing for the project itself is open to question as under a new policy, the United States will be required to vote against multilateral funding for large-scale hydroelectric projects in developing countries.

The IDB had been expected to partially fund the AFHP and at the time of Sithe Global’s pullout, the Bank was conducting due diligence. With the US being a powerful IDB board member, holding 30% of voting power—the most by far—in the IDB, it is unlikely, given the new policy that the US representative will support the project. However, it has been noted that the international financial institutions are free to ignore the position of the US executive directors.

The government is looking at ways to revive the Amaila hydropower project and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds earlier this year told a parliamentary committee that the US position is of concern to Guyana as the AFHP may be one of the projects that the US has to vote against. However, government officials have spoken of Chinese funding filling the gap.

Meantime, in relation to the Marriott Hotel, Ramotar said that a foreign investor will be unveiled soon and funding is available to continue the project. “We have local banks involved, we have also foreign banks involved and we do have a foreign investor,” the president said. He was hoping that the investor would have already been announced but added that there are still some small arrangements left to be made to tie things up. “You will get (answers) soon,” he told reporters. “A consortium of people have put money into it, so there’s money there to continue the work apart from NICIL,” the president said.

Stabroek News reported earlier this month that with five months left before its projected opening, the Marriott Hotel project is still without an investor.

CEO of Atlantic Hotels Incorporated (AHI), Winston Brassington, had said that the name of the US$8 million equity, private investor would have been made public since the end of 2013, but three months into the New Year there has been no word on who this person is. There had been earlier assurances that the investor would be named even before the end of last year.

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