Kaieteur News- Whatever this government wants, this PPP government gets. The controversial Amaila Falls energy-generating project is returning to Guyana, and looks like it is here to stay. This time, PPP leaders will most likely have their way.
We show our cards: when government, any government, comes up with a project that makes sense for Guyanese, then we at this paper are for it. But, we can only be so, with the following conditions attached and made clear. We have nothing to hide, no hidden agenda, no axe to grind, and no fight to pick. But, if we have to engage in the latter, then we will. Because we are upfront, we ask this government to be the same way, not because we press for the clarity of convincing transparency. But in the interest of what is beneficial to the Guyanese public.
The first Amaila Falls died, because it was wrong for Guyana. The then-PPP government hid too many vital things, deceived us about the quality of the people involved, and played games with the monies involved. Amaila Falls may have been a good thing in the making, but it started out with the wrong people and wrong political leadership, and ended up on the wrong side of Guyanese public works history. Men made millions for doing nothing, other than being a part of the game, and contributing to the political deceptions. Guyana wrote off its losses on that one, but now appears readying for a repeat.
For now, the same ill-fated Amaila Fall project is back, and we wonder who the players will be that enrich themselves through more of the old trickiness, and new ones concocted to lead Guyanese down primrose paths, which almost always end up being those well-travelled paths littered with the skullduggeries of the politically corrupt and their willing cronies. We have early signs of how things are shaping up, and what just may be.
In this reincarnation of the project (“Govt. looking for investor to help revive contentious Amaila project” KN July 25), the first government outlines are given expression. Through an Office of the President originated RFP (Request for Proposal), the word is that “Government wants a private partner to fund and develop the project” and which will “take one of two systems.” Both look reasonable on the face of things, but since this is government in Guyana, and project management in Guyana, with all the traditional political leadership calculations and shenanigans, we are watchful, if not suspicious. We make no bones about this, because of what has happened in the past with such projects in general, and with this one in particular.
The first of the two systems is something called BOOT, which stands for Build-Own-Operate-Transfer. Sounds good on the surface but if it is genuinely only and thoroughly about those components with the cleanest people and cleanest conditions underpinning, and made clearest from the inception, then it just may work, and well, too. But, that part about “Operate” makes us pause for there is opportunity (loophole and premeditated arrangement) for this exhumed Guyanese project to turn turtle like a runaway minibus, and trap citizens with the pains. “Operate” could mean anything where the price for public usage of its output is staggering, but mandatory. There is what could be the start of our troubles. And when it is ready for that “Transfer”, we could be left with something not worthy of the scrap iron yard. Obsolete or unworkable or unpredictable, all come to mind. But it would be Guyana’s.
The second system is Design-Build-Finance, again rather pretty when dressed up, even in this barebones fashion. In sum, the Guyana Government “would take over the project at commissioning date…and initiate repayment of the financing in accordance with contract terms.” That looks too much like a poisonous snake pretending to be a harmless snail. We are still to encounter any private partner, financing or otherwise, of this PPP government (or previous), where Guyana got value for money, where the questions never stopped, and satisfactory answers never came. This looks like more of the same. In a nutshell, Amaila redux will give Guyanese severe acid reflux.
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