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Opposition vote an “act of terrorism” against national development – President Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar has decried the parliamentary opposition’s use of its majority to vote against a bill and a motion tied to the Amaila Hydropower Project as an “act of terrorism” against national development.

This is according to a statement released by the Government Information Agency (GINA) Friday evening. The entire statement is reproduced below.

My fellow Guyanese, Following our 2011 elections, I was hopeful that this unprecedented configuration of our Parliament would have allowed us the opportunity to move forward.  I had hoped that all the political parties in Parliament would have worked together in the interest of the Guyanese people.  Last evening those hopes were dashed.

Yesterday, Thursday, July 18, the Opposition in Parliament voted against a bill to amend the Hydro Electric Act and a motion to raise the debt ceiling that would create the financial architecture to implement the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.    Their actions now place the Amaila Falls Hydro-electrical project, the largest project in Guyana’s history, in jeopardy.

Government made it clear that support of the Bill was a pre-condition to complete due diligence by the IDB.  The legislative amendment was expected to be completed by the end of July.

Government has met with the joint opposition on numerous occasions to brief them, supplying them with all information requested and answering all questions asked.  There is no question that they asked which was not answered.  At least 3 technical presentations were made (March 2012, March 2013, June 2013).  We’ve held several political meetings also.   We invited them to tour the access road that leads to the proposed site.

The opposition had various meetings with other stakeholders.  These included meetings with the IDB including one just this Wednesday (July 17).  Sithe Global, the private Sponsor, has also met with key stakeholders including the opposition parties.

Over the last 18 months, Government, Sithe Global, IDB and other parties have maintained an on-going dialogue with the opposition.

Electricity is one of the most basic needs of a population.  The need for and impact of cheap electricity is not something that any reasonable person should think is open for debate.

We have spoken about this many times before.  Hydro Power will bring great benefits to every single Guyanese.

In the first place it will bring to an end the blackouts that even though reduced, are still an annoyance and an inconvenience.

It will bring down the cost of electricity to consumers by between 25 – 40% of what we pay now.

It will also allow us to reduce our carbon footprint further and earn millions of US dollars in carbon credits.

It will save our country billions from reducing the importation of fuel oil for the generation of electricity.  Indeed at today’s price we would save as much as G$40 billion per annum.

With cheap energy we can do much more processing – more value added and we can build a vibrant manufacturing sector.  All of these will create many jobs and enhance the technical capacity of our working people.  It has the potential to increase investments and enhance our country’s competitiveness internationally.

This project is a Build Operate and Transfer Project.  Twenty years after operating this will belong to all Guyana.  The life of the station is expected to be at a minimum of seventy- five years.  This means that at least for fifty – five years the cost of generating electricity from that station would be just its operational cost.

Hydro-power in Guyana is overdue by a generation.  And yesterday, (July 18) the opposition in Parliament, in spite of all of the explanations and reasons on the necessity of completing the various activities in Parliament, took action to further delay it.  Moreover, despite no serious objections by the Opposition in any of these fora, the Joint Opposition still voted against the bills. More troubling is that they fully understand the negative ramifications for Guyana’s development.    Yesterday, the opposition continued to hold the project hostage to other demands by voting down Amaila.  This politics of blackmail will not get us anywhere.

Today is a sad day for all Guyanese.

It is difficult to predict what will happen next, but what is clear is that the Amaila project in its current configuration may well be in jeopardy.

I want to assure you that this Government will continue to pursue options to bring cheap and reliable electricity to you the Guyanese people.    We will not be swayed by narrow-minded political agendas looking to stymie our development thrust.  We will persevere.  We will continue to act in the best interest of our Guyanese people.  I ask you to support your Government in this pursuit.   As your President, my action will only be in your best interest and the progress of this nation.

July 19, 2013