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APNU sees no political risk in opposing Amaila project

(L-R) APNU’s Carl Greenidge, David Granger, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine and Joseph Harmon.

Leader of the Opposition David Granger has indicated that the APNU would rather face the wrath of the electors than the potential fallout from the US$858M Amaila Falls Hydro Power project which he said was flawed.

At a news conference on Monday he was asked whether the APNU had calculated the political risk they were taking in voting against the project which the government has sold as a source for cheap energy and a catalyst for development.

“It would be riskier to proceed on a flawed project without sufficient information, it would be a greater risk. From the outset we said we didn’t want another Skeldon in the country,” Granger responded with a reference to the beleaguered sugar factory.

“We realised there were dangers and every bit of advice we’ve received, all the consultations that we have done pointed to the fact that if we proceeded along the course that had been identified by the PPP administration we would have been running a greater danger.”

It was better to pull out now, provide the data the opposition had been asking for and rework the project Granger said.

According to the opposition leader, they see “no risk” in the position they have adopted which they believe is in the best interest of the country.

The APNU last Wednesday voted against the Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill and a motion to up the debt ceiling from GUY$1B to GUY$ $130B, legislation the government said was critical to the Amaila project. The AFC voted with the government but not before amending the debt ceiling to GUY$50B.

The AFC move on the motion was contrary to an earlier stated position to await the due diligence reports from the IDB, a potential investor. Asked if that would be influencing future engagements with the smaller party Granger said he did not believe so.

“We understand the AFC’s position and we’ll continue to speak with the AFC. There’s no requirement for us to see eye to eye on every project but we do meet and are aware of the positions that the different sides are taking, in some matters we collaborate and in some matters we don’t,” he said adding that the relationship remained “cordial.”

Meanwhile, APNU’s Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge said they were yet to see any study showing that the electricity rates being paid by consumers would be reduced.

He added that while the government had provided them with information on the project some that was needed was not yet available. Greenidge noted that a document detailing the hydropower project was never brought before the National Assembly with last week’s bill relating to an IDB environmental requirement and the motion dealing with a guarantee to cover any financial shortfall that GPL may experience in paying for the power.

“You find anywhere it mentions the company that is to run Amaila, where it mentions anything about shareholder interests, where it mentions anything about the structuring of the debt,” Greenidge challenged.

Granger had said previously that infrastructure projects such as Amaila and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport expansion project had to be brought under a proper governance framework.

The APNU said it remained concerned about the financial arrangements for the project, the final tariff to average consumers, design of the plant, the final cost of the project and GPL’s ability to deliver electricity to consumers.

All that may be moot now since US firm Sithe Global has pulled out its US$150M stake citing the lack of parliamentary consensus as its reason.