Great benefits are in store if the Amaila project comes on stream

Dear Editor,

The recent promise of the 10 per cent reduction in electricity rates (as issued by President Donald Ramotar and a few others) is a very refreshing piece of news for all Guyana. I really started thinking about some things when I learned about this drop, which has already started to have positive trickle down effects on all of Guyana.

Already, I am hearing of the ease of private vehicle owners (when they go to fuel up) and I am very puzzled why taxi drivers and minibus drivers are still not lowering their fares. I am anticipating even more ease, when my electricity bill will be lowered, and I cannot help but be grateful for the general boost to the public.

We must remember that electricity is a contentious issue in Guyana, and it was addressed at the macro level, time and time again. I note that the President spoke of empowerment, referencing this lowering of the fuel price with the simple fact that “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Very simply put, and in my case, I am saving two thousand per tank (small one too) at all of the GuyOil gas stations. It means that I have more disposable income, and this, in a very basic way is one facet of empowerment.

I now go to the big picture and I think of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project (AFHEP) and its huge potential for Guyana.

This project will generate electricity for the national grid (Guyana Power & Light) with future expansion capacity to power major industrial growth projects within the country. Current power demands also exist in the bauxite and gold mining industries. In fact, at the production level, every aspect stands to benefit.

As of now, the fuel price is down, but this may not be sustained. This makes mandatory the AFHEP. Guyana is spending about quarter of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to purchase fuel, and most of this (anyway) is going to fossil-fuelled electrical generation equipment. Outside of the economic advantages where hydropower is concerned, we are all aware of the fact that there are no air or water pollutants to worry over. We can quit worrying too about greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and be happy that the natural balance in an ecosystem is not disturbed.

To make matters very clear, where this AFHEP is concerned, all of Guyana will benefit in a massive way; people will have more to spend and the government will have more to invest. I add the great environmental benefits to accrue, and I say that this is what ‘empowerment’ is really all about. Yet, the opposition parties were adamantly blocking this most pivotal project.

I mean that almost everybody, if he/she is in the right frame of mind, agrees that Guyana is in great need of hydropower. This project is the most viable solution for Guyana’s electricity needs.

I point out that the government subsidises GPL every year, but if AFHEP is here, then this hefty sum can be put to other uses. GPL might by then be quite viable, as the money earned from selling electricity will pay the loans. What a bigger sigh of relief when all debts incurred will have been serviced. It means even more money in Guyana.

I remind readers that the few people from the opposition, who are condemning the project, were at one time in full support of it. There is no rationale for thwarting this plan of action. Even now as the electorate, all across Guyana, are enjoying the benefits of this lowering in their expenditures, they need to realise what great benefits are in store for them and their country, that is, if the PPP/C is allowed the chance to pull it off – the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Power Project.

I, therefore, join President Ramotar, in reminding all Guyana, that the drastic fall in fuel prices on the world market will not remain forever, and, therefore, Guyana should be looking ahead for ways and means of generating electricity at a lower cost. The funny thing is that the AFHEP is all about our own permanent good; it is empowerment at every level, and yet A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) are seeking to derail it.

I am glad that President Ramotar himself said that the government is looking to restart work on the Amaila Falls Project.

I recall that both the AFC and APNU had promised the electorate in their respective manifestos in 2011, to bring hydropower on stream, in recognition of the need to provide energy at a cheap cost. So all I can say is that the population must be wiser this time on May 11, 2015.

Yours faithfully,
Raghunandan Singh

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