Nov 20, 2015 News
Finance Minister Winston Jordan admitted to members of the business community on Wednesday night that cheap energy is undoubtedly needed to open the “floodgates of prosperity”, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
Understanding this reality, he said that the controversial Amaila Falls Hydro Project has been placed on government’s front burner. He disclosed, too, that the coalition administration is in discussions with Norway to procure another review of the project.
Jordan made this declaration to those who attended the dinner of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) at the Pegasus Hotel.
The Minister said that what is needed is good economic and political governance. In this vein, he said that a number of plans are underway. He assured that Government is committed to providing cheap and reliable energy which is goal number seven of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We are involved currently with the Inter-American Development Bank to study the correct energy matrix and energy mix for Guyana to meet our needs for the next 30 years. This study is due early next year, and it will include the analysis of five hydro sites, including the Amaila site as well.”
Jordan announced that the government is in discussions with Norway to procure yet another review of the Amaila project.
“Norway seems keen to finance an independent review to, once and for all, pronounce on the viability or non-viability of the project.”
Jordan said that the anticipated zones of growth include the Intermediate Savannahs for agriculture and the harnessing of wind power, biomass and solar for energy.
The Minister also used the opportunity to remind those present that the Government recently approved a clean energy project by a private developer, which will see 25MW of clean, wind-generated power being sold to the national grid.
With this energy matrix, Jordan said that rice and sugar should have better cost structures, especially if the country’s private sector partners with the Government to transform these industries through technological innovation, visionary thinking and competitive marketing.
He said that his ministry is open to working with the Private Sector to clear all hurdles in the path to more competitiveness.
Just a few days ago, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had said that while government is opposed to the current Amaila Falls Hydro Project proposal, it must remain open to discussions.
In fact, Jagdeo said that he is willing to help the government in understanding the project; one in which he and his colleagues truly believe would have been one of the hallmarks of the then PPP government, had it not been curtailed by the APNU+AFC.
But should government fail to accept the former President’s invitations to talks, he plans to take another course of action. He would take facts about the project to the people, in the hope that “the veil would be removed from their eyes, and the project’s potential for greatness would be as clear as day”.
Jagdeo recalled that in August 2013, the then Opposition refused to support a national consensus on the Amaila Falls Hydropower project, despite years of hard work by successive PPP/C Governments in collaboration with international partners.
He said that the APNU+AFC government’s position on Amaila Falls was summarised during the debate on the 2015 Budget, when Finance Minister Winston Jordan stood before the National Assembly and declared that to proceed with the Amaila Falls project would be “a downright criminal act of deception”.
The Minister had said that the Government’s “investigations” had revealed that GPL would be required to make annual payments amounting to US$130 million to the operators of the hydro facility, payments which will total US$2.6 billion over 20 years.
He had said, too, that the Government’s plans to not proceed with Amaila Falls were “strongly supported by the experts at the IDB, who had considered the project to be too risky to attract the Bank’s financing.”
Jagdeo however holds the view that it is not the Amaila Falls project which is the “criminal deception”; he said that it is the Government’s willingness to mislead the public in pursuit of dubious political ends. He asserted that this deception will condemn Guyanese to many more years of expensive electricity prices, and is already damaging the competiveness of “our private sector and our overall economy.”
“We call on the Government to join with the PPP/C in a conversation around Amaila Falls that is based on reason and globally credible analysis…We stand ready to help them improve their understanding of the project,” Jagdeo had said.
Since Jagdeo made these statements, the Finance Minister has remained silent on the issue.
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