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Hydro-electric bill passed without APNU support

The Alliance For Change voted with the government in the wee hours of Thursday morning to pass the Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill which is necessary to bring the local law into conformity with the environmental standards of possible Amaila Project financier the IDB.

The APNU voted against the bill with chief spokesman on financial matters Carl Greenidge saying that there were still a considerable amount of questions about the project unanswered.

He also questioned why the people should take the government’s word that Amaila would result in lower electricity rates when neither the IDB nor Amaila operator Sithe Global could give that guarantee.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds in opening debate on the bill said the generation cost would come down from about 23 US cents to about 12 US cents per kilowatt hour. He added that in the next 20 years when the plant is handed over the cost could come down to as low as three US cents.

According to Hinds, government would be foregoing returns on its $100M investment in the project to ensure that electricity tariffs remain low.

Greenidge called the government’s figures “heroic” since the IDB’s feasibility study was yet to be concluded and he challenged the government to resign if those savings were not passed on to consumers.

AFC’s Moses Nagamootoo in offering his party’s support took umbrage at what he said was the “vitriol” from the government benches even though they knew that the AFC had indicated it would be supporting the bill. He took particular offence at MP Robeson Benn’s remark that it would be akin to “criminal negligence” if the House failed to pass the bill.

The bill’s passage came after its unprecedented return to the House with opposition support after being voted down by the opposition parties on July 18. Also voted down that day was a motion to increase the debt ceiling from $1B to $150B which was also returned to the House on Wednesday.

Debate on that motion started around 1.30AM Thursday. The National Assembly heads into a two-month recess from August 10.