At a news conference on Friday party executive Moses Nagamootoo said they had indicated their support for the bill Hydro Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2013 but the government linked it with a motion to increase guarantees under the Guarantee of Loans (Public Corporations and Companies) Act.
The move would raise the amount the government would guarantee from GUY$1B to GUY$150B. The government has said this would ensure the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) meets its financial commitments under the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Amaila Falls Hydro Inc.
“The AFC has taken a principled position that we would approve all Amaila related laws once the IDB, which is undertaking a technical and other review of the project’s feasibility, give the Amaila Project the green light.
It would be irresponsible for us to guarantee borrowing to the tune of $150 billion and not have informed guarantee that the project is feasible. And this remains our position. To do otherwise would be to abandon the people of Guyana, and to place them in a vicious trap of future debts,” Nagamootoo told reporters.
According to AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, a visiting IDB team which they met on Wednesday did not mention the increased loan guarantee as a requirement, only the amendment to the bill to meet IDB environmental policies.
“Assuming we jack up this from $1B to $150B and the IDB does not give its green light to the project this government would have a blank cheque to go borrow $150B from people all over the place, the Chinese, whosoever else, and we don’t want that reckless kind of financial arrangement and we would have approved it in the parliament. That is why we are awaiting the IDB’s economic feasibility plan,” he said.
The IDB, a potential financier of the project, is still doing due diligence on the investment with the capacity of Guyana Power and Light Inc., the economic viability and environmental feasibility of the project still being studied.
On a question about the justification for voting against the bill Ramjattan said it was the attitude of the government that led to the opposition’s stance.
“We got information and I told that to both the Speaker and Madame (Gail) Teixeira that if we were to go and vote yes to that hydro-electric bill that they are not going to support the four local government bills,” he said.
Thursday’s sitting degenerated after the opposition voted to reshuffle the order of business to bring the local government bills before the Amaila Project-related legislation. The government subsequently refused to start off the debate on them.
According to Ramjattan, the move was one to receive assurance for the bills which they would have reciprocated by voting for the hydro-electric bill.
“We now saw a vindication of the information that they are not going to support the four local government bills so we tried what is called a leveraging, that if you want local government elections by the end of the year support the four bills and they did not,” he stated.
Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon had said Thursday morning that the government was unhappy with two of the four bills which had just returned from a Special Select Committee where the opposition also enjoyed a majority.
There have been persistent calls for local government elections by year end from civil society and the diplomatic community. The polls were last held in 1994.