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Sithe Global pulled out of Amaila because of high political risk- Greenidge

The opposition A Partnership of National Unity (APNU) on Sunday said the United States (US) firm, Sithe Global, pulled out of the nearly US$1 billion Amaila Falls Hydropower facility, fearing that if the government changes the deal could be amended.

Although the smaller opposition Alliance For Change (AFC) joined the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) in voting for key Amaila-linked legislative instruments, Sithe Global has insisted that there must be political consensus.

Well-placed sources say the American company wanted unanimity to guarantee no nationalisation or amendment to agreements governing the Amaila Falls Hydropower Station.

APNU’s Carl Greenidge reasons that Sithe Global has built into the agreement an income stream from Amaila for the next 20 years during which period the PPPC administration can be voted out of office.

“This government- you can’t guarantee that it will be there for twenty more years. Even less likely the chances are that they might not even serve out their term.

The problem is if a new government comes in, they will look at a project like this which is controversial and they may wish to revisit the financing. That’s what Sithe recognizes,” said Greenidge on the Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) television programme, ‘Groundings.’

Renowned Caribbean Economist, Professor Clive Thomas noted that the project was a “high risk one” even with a “low end” 19 percent rate of return. Sithe Global, which has invested US$16 million into preparatory work for the project, had planned to inject another US$150 million.

Greenidge, a former Finance Minister in the Peoples National Congress (PNC)-led administration, rejected government’s position that all the details about the project has been made available. Instead, Greenidge said government has failed to table policy and project documents in the 65-seat House.

“Clearly, no document specific to Amaila has been put before the parliament so a document can be put,” he said. He wants government to hold genuine consultations and be prepared to accept and implement recommendations from other stakeholders.
Greenidge noted that the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) would have the finer details of a project of this magnitude, unlike the opposition. Professor Thomas urged that there be an all-party involvement in the decision-making and supervisory process for a hydro power facility.

With President Donald Ramotar announcing that he had been engaged in last ditch talks with Opposition Leader, David Granger in the hope of winning APNU’s support, it is unclear whether the situation can change in the coming days.

Granger late Sunday maintained that APNU’s position has not changed. He is expected to hold an emergency news conference on Monday.

APNU has insisted that the project, as currently conceived, will saddle Guyana with a huge debt and does not guarantee lower electricity tariffs for domestic and commercial tariffs.

Guyana has spent at least US$20 million on a road to the site for the Amaila Falls hydropower station.