Guyanese must stay focused. They must not be diverted or distracted. These are serious times and the closing days for the Jagdeo administration.
Now is the time for the opposition parties and the people of Guyana to be alert. Now is not the time to be blinded by the allure and promise of political power, or political diversions such as the possible impending sanction of CNS 6 television station.
Months ago the nation was told that within one week the television station would have received a response about the sanction it would face.
The one week passed and then another and then another. Now we are hearing that a meeting has been convened for today to which Mr. Sharma is invited.
Why now? Why was the action to be taken against CN Sharma not announced earlier? Why only now? Is this action a smokescreen to divert the public’s attention from the shocking announcement that there has been a dramatic increase in the projected cost of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project (AFHEP)?
It is now being claimed that the cost of the project has escalated by some US$200M from what was announced last year. Now how in heaven’s name can the cost of a project escalate so high in such a short period of time?
This only confirms the fears of those who all along felt that there was something wrong about this project, that it lacked transparency and ought to have been abandoned.
Guyana needs hydroelectricity. But Guyana does not need hydroelectricity at such an enormous cost. If this project goes ahead at the projected billing, then the children and grandchildren of all Guyanese are going to have to repay for it until the end of time.
This is a project that represents an overbearing burden on future generations. It needs to be paused immediately. It has not passed muster, it smells rank and it requires greater transparency and disclosure.
The President has essentially said that this project is aboveboard. Yes, aboveboard!
But based on the cost escalation over a short period of time this project has gone overboard. Even before a bolt is riveted, even before the road is completed – a road that is itself besieged by controversy – the project costs have mounted by more than $200M. Given this mind-boggling development, one must wonder what is going to be the final cost overrun when the project is completed. Are we then going to eventually learn that the final project actually cost one billion United States dollars?
Already there are concerns as to whether, given the escalation of the project’s costs, the AFHEP will be able to sell electricity to the national grid at the cost that was promised – one that would allow electricity tariffs to be slashed by over 40 per cent. This now seems off the cards.
The people of Guyana should find no comfort in the words of the President that this project is aboveboard. Every major initiative of the Jagdeo administration has been beset with controversy, from the National Stadium at Providence to the Skeldon Sugar Factory to the road to the Amaila Falls Project.
Guyanese are yet to learn the full details about the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project. So why should they accept the President’s word that everything is aboveboard? If everything is aboveboard, make all the details of the contract and the feasibility studies and the cost estimates public so that they can be scrutinized and the people of Guyana can make up their own minds as to whether the AFHEP is aboveboard or has gone overboard.
And in order to know whether the AFHEP is aboveboard or overboard, it is also necessary to know the names of those who are onboard.
The AFHEP needs to be put on pause right now. The Jagdeo administration cannot be entrusted to continue with this project, and more so at this time when the President is about to demit office.
The opposition parties need to pause this project. This does not require any protest or demonstration, but a simple statement that no new opposition government is going to respect the terms of a deal which it knows little about. This is all it will take for the equity investors to rethink their role.
There are too many unanswered questions about this deal. As such, this project should not be allowed to see the light of day, unless there is greater transparency.
The government, so close to election however, wants to move ahead. And given the controversies already surrounding this project, moving forward will attract greater attention and criticism. What do politicians do in such a situation? They create diversions.
The present diversion is C.N. Sharma. The Sharma issue is intended to blindside the public from this controversial deal.
The opposition parties should not fall for this. They should make it known that far from being aboveboard, the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project is overboard and the people of Guyana, the main stakeholders, are definitely not onboard.
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