The government finds itself in a bind. It had campaigned on the back of criticisms of the Amalia Falls Hydroelectric Project. It is now faced with a difficult situation. It has to make a decision on a report which while confirming certain problems with the original plan by the PPP/C administration, has found that the project is the quickest path towards sustainable electricity generation.
The government will find it politically unpalatable to support this project. They had sermonized on the project’s development, accusing the project of being technically and financially unsound and enmeshed in a web of corruption. It is now faced with the prospects of having to accept the project, even in a revised format, as the best route to achieving its sustainable energy needs. An independent report commissioned by the Norwegian government has essentially said to the government of Guyana that notwithstanding all the technical and financial concerns about the project, it still is the best option for Guyana.
The government has tried to downplay the overall thrust of the report. This has led to uncertainty as to where the government stands on the project. But that uncertainty cannot be resolved by a press conference. It has to be resolved by a decision by the government on the way forward.
The government has clearly found itself without a sustainable energy development plan. It has ideas but no plan. According to the leader of the opposition, the government is only now outsourcing the development of its green agenda.
Once that plan is outsourced to foreign consultants, the draft plans which will be produced are most likely going to endorse that independent review of the Amalia Falls Hydroelectric Project. Foreign consultants do not stray far from each other’s paths and you can bet that there will be some form of qualified endorsement of Amalia Falls Hydroelectric Project when outsourced draft of the green agenda is produced.
Politically, it will be a hard pill for the government to swallow. It will be hard for the government to go to its supporters and to say to them that we were right about Jagdeo’s project, but we have no choice. It will be harder for the government to concede to its supporters that it has no choice but to go ahead with the project.
The financing of any green development agenda for Guyana will be confronted with the need for government to move forward with this plan. It will be a thorn in the sides of the government. No international firm is going to provide any finance for sustainable energy development, unless it is certain that there is a major hydroelectric project which can come on stream at a short notice. The only such scheme which can materialize, in the short-term, is Amalia Falls Hydroelectric Project.
The problem facing the government is no longer whether to support Jagdeo’s pet project. The government has no choice. It will lose billions of dollars presently held by the IDB for Amalia if it does not go ahead with this project. If the government refuses to continue with Amalia, the Norwegians will most likely ask the bank to return the funds to them. This is the most likely outcome of government rejecting Jagdeo’s project.
If the government decides that it is politically suicidal to support Amalia, it will lose all multilateral support for its green development agenda. The government can lobby all it wants about other options, but it cannot escape the consequences of the independent review done on Amaila. That report will haunt any plans the government may have about a green agenda.
Granger’s green agenda will be grounded, unless the government comes around to accepting Jagdeo’s plan or some modified version of it. That is not as hard to do as it may seem. When the ruling coalition was campaigning for office, it has been highly critical of the project, launched by the PPPC, to extend the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. It had been critical of the need for that extension and the cost. Within months of taking office, it was forced to go ahead with that project. It lost no political face and support for taking that decision.
But Amaila is a different kettle of fish. That is Jagdeo’s baby and it will be hard for APNU+AFC which seems to be saying that it has no choice but to go ahead with bringing this baby into life. Whichever way the government goes it loses. If it accepts the project, Jagdeo wins. If it rejects it, the green agenda will not materialize.
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