By Abena Rockcliffe
“Wild” accusations of incestuous behaviour on the part of the Government as contended by Opposition
Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have been dismissed by the businessman caught in the middle of this particular episode. He has detailed the facts of the matter.
At a recent press conference he held to criticize the 2016 Budget, Jagdeo said that Government is neglecting the poor while developing projects to put money in the way of its friends.
The project he referred to was one that will see Guyanese accessing wind generated electricity at a much cheaper price than electricity generated by fossil fuel.
When he presented his Budget speech to the National Assembly, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, said that Government is negotiating a power purchase agreement with a “private developer” for a US$50 million Wind Farm at Hope Beach. Jordan said that the facility is expected to provide an additional 25 megawatts of power to the national grid.
He said that Guyana Power and Light (GPL) currently generates power at an average weighted cost of US$0.28 per kilowatt hour.
“The new project will likely offer GPL energy at less than half that cost, which will translate to lower electricity tariffs to consumers,” said Jordan.
It was later revealed that the “private developer” was Guyana Wind Farm Incorporated (GWFI), headed by Lloyd Singh, owner of International Pharmaceutical Agency.
At the press conference, Jagdeo said that Government’s decision to begin talks with the owners of GWFI on the possibility of buying power is “incestuous” and should be reviewed,
Jagdeo criticized the government for not going to a public tender process before engaging the company. “I have heard that Mr Lloyd Singh is the developer of the project,” said Jagdeo.
He pointed out that Lloyd Singh; the company’s CEO is a “personal friend” of Vice President Khemraj Ramjattan.
“In fact the principal of this company has been embraced as a good friend of the AFC and personal friend of Khemraj Ramjattan,” said Jagdeo.
He said that Singh is the contractor responsible for the construction of the new Alliance For Change (AFC) Head Office.
But yesterday Singh dismissed all claims by Jagdeo to the effect that Government had chosen to engage him because of his affiliation. Singh said that the foundation for this project was laid under the rule of Jagdeo.
Singh said that his company—IPA has 80 percent shares in the GWFI. The businessman said that the shares were acquired in recent years.
However, he indicated that the Wind Farm project is about 12 years old “because studies, permits and much ground work were done in the past. We have taken over this project for more than four years now.”
Arrangements with previous Government
This newspaper is now in possession of a copy of an environmental permit that was granted in 2007. Jagdeo was President at that time.
Kaieteur News also has a copy of a 50-year lease agreement for 38 acres of land on the Hope Beach. The lease agreement had Jagdeo himself as the Lessor on behalf of Guyana.
Singh said, “Jagdeo himself gave the lease to the company to develop a Wind Farm project in Guyana. I do not understand now why is the ex-President making mention of bidding and all these things.”
The businessman continued, “If you give us 38 acres of land and say look go ahead and develop a Wind Farm to deliver wind energy to Guyana, why is the question of bidding now coming into play?” The lease was given in 2007.
Then in 2014, during the rule of former President Donald Ramotar, the project gained approval from the then People’s Progressive Party/ Civic cabinet. That would have been after the years of study would have gone into the viability of the project.
Cabinet’s approval was given on June 9, 2014. It was quoted in the cabinet approval that electricity would have then been sold to GPL at US18 cents per kilowatt hour.
Singh said that he is now renegotiating the price with the new government. “We are in discussion about lines agreement, interconnection agreement, power purchase agreement and an MOU. We are also renewing our environmental permit. So I do not know where the ex-President is getting his news from that this government has already signed off on this project. It is not so.
Singh said that a tower, 100 meters high has already been erected at Hope Beach.
He said that his company has also expended large sums on studies and other related arrangements.
The businessman added, “My contention here is that we are delivering a good thing to Guyana. I want the people to understand that there are three alternative sources of energy in Guyana: hydro, solar and wind. Hydro depends on rain, solar on sun but wind is 24 hours. Wind energy is the cheapest renewable energy in the world today.”
Singh told Kaieteur News that it is clear to him that Jagdeo never had and never will have any real concern about what is in the best interest of the country. He said that Jagdeo will always want to push his own agenda.
“If he give the company a lease to go out and prepare to deliver Wind Farm and all this process went through why now call for tender? I am sure there was no tender for many things while he was President.”
According to Singh, the real problem is that none of Jagdeo’s friends will be able to benefit from the project.
Singh said that Guyanese can begin getting wind generated electricity as soon as nine months but if another company is to now embark upon the project it will be pushed back a great lot as that company will now have to start from scratch.
He said too, “Even though the price of oil is now very low, I encourage that we look at the long term when the price goes up. When fuel price goes back up electricity price will go up too but the Wind Farm cost will never go up. It will only come down because the longer we have that the cheaper it will become.”
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