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Opposition may forge ahead with Amaila Falls Hydropower project if it wins elections

Presidential candidate for the opposition coalition, David Granger on Tuesday said his “green energy” strategy could incorporate the current government’s proposed Amaila Falls Hydropower Project that his party had up to recently rejected on grounds of transparency and feasibility.

“We will also develop hydro electric power within a project, which we have identified as the Potaro Basin Development Authority which could embody the present Amaila Falls but it will not be a stand-alone project,” he told a Business Luncheon organized by the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA).

He said that instead of relying on the Kuribrong River (whose source is the Amaila Falls) alone, the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)- led administration would “create a basin and we will completely reform the project, the Amaila Falls Hydropower project.”

He noted that there are more than 100 sites with hydropower potential across Guyana.

Granger’s APNU early last year blocked the construction of the US$840 million Amaila Falls Hydropower Plant by refusing to give parliamentary support for the project’s Bill in the National Assembly, citing concerns about feasibility,  financing of the project and the lack of assurance that the final cost of power to the consumer would be considerably lower than existing tariffs .

Addressing businesspersons and Western diplomats at the event organized to hear from the two leading presidential candidates, Granger stressed that APNU was not opposed to hydroelectricity but was in favour of a transparent project.

Incumbent President, Donald Ramotar is expected to address another GMSA-organised luncheon on April 22.

Granger told the private sector players that if he wins the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, his administration would take steps to revive the Chinese-built Moco-Moco hydropower plant and reduce the Rupununi’s dependency on expensive diesel-powered electricity that does not serve outlying communities like Moco-Moco. The project failed due to the collapse of pipelined as a result of soil instability.  Plans are also on the drawing board to resuscitate the Tumatumari Hydropower plant that could serve Mahdia. The Opposition Leader said steps would be taken to harness wind and solar power sources including the establishment of solar farms rather than hand out solar panels to Amerindian communities.

He promised to ensure that regulatory agencies like those in the natural resources sector are professionalized, a level playing field for local and foreign investors and the reduction of taxes. “Taxes are too high, unbearably high, too difficult, too cumbersome to administer, too many waivers, too many loopholes. Taxation is too burdensome a business and too burdensome on the poor and these heavy burdens encourage graft and corruption,” he told attendees who included the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Kurshid Sattaur.

The Opposition Leader said if elected to office his administration would put steps in place to stimulate agro-processing and diversify the economy away from sugar, rice, timber, gold, bauxite and fish. Emphasis, he said, would be placed on economic diplomacy to facilitate more exports.

Plans are also in train, he said, to repair the “broken education system” by establishing technical institutes in every region and ensuring that the University of Guyana produces a “five star” quality education. He also restated that measures would be put in place to address crime, corruption, provide boat ambulances and build road-links across the interior.