Kaieteur News – The Guyana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) took the leap and made a call on the Wales Gas-to-Energy (GTE) project. Whether voluntary or given a nudge, the GCCI is well within its rights to lend its voice to the land end of the GTE now waiting for a loan from the US Export Import Bank (EXIM). Regarding the basis on which the GCCI communicated to EXIM, it stands on rather slippery ground. In addition, hauling off and firing a salvo in a contemptuous manner at conscientious citizens daring to press for turning down the loan, was taking things too far, twisting things to suit its own unknown objectives, hopefully on righteousness’s side. For just as the GCCI is free to exercise its rights, as to how it sees this GTE project, so it applies also to those who see it differently. It is the way that the democratic process works, isn’t it?
There is no doubt that the loan greenlight from EXIM could mean more than passing business opportunities for people associated with the GCCI. It is part of how the capitalist system works, how commerce flourishes. Still, I refrain from concluding that the GCCI’s letter to EXIM pressing for approval of the loan had anything to do with the self-serving. Or the political, as in kowtowing to the expectations (or hints) of relationships that have power oozing from pores. A good word to EXIM by the GCCI has the highest probability of paying rich dividends, as a matter of routine. Still, I am taken aback by the GCCI’s epistle, what looked like throwing prudent business caution to the winds. Here is the local highflying umbrella organization in its own words, “The GCCI sees this project as having immense potential to drive economic growth, enhance energy security, and promote sustainable development in the Western Hemisphere.”It is a given that many Guyanese would also do, but only on the basis of evidence that is from an independent source that could be trusted, hence credible.
Guyanese want this Wales GTE like yesterday. But only when they have something in their hands on which they can focus their minds. It would be that which powers them to conclude that, indeed, there is something here that is good for Guyana, as represented by the PPP Government, through the good offices of the honorable vice president, Bharrat Jagdeo. The handicap to this state of mind is that there is a bit of a hiccup. There is nothing with which to work. What perplexes is that the GCCI knows this, but still barreled ahead in penning its epistle to US EXIM, and then pelt a lash at those who curdle the GTE cream with their objections.
The question is whether the GGCI is taking a calculated gamble. Or it is privy to what no other Guyanese outside of Bharrat Jagdeo’s charmed circle knows. If the latter is on the money, then the Vice President should be confident enough to share, and let all Guyanese make up their own minds that the GTE has substance, is worth the money, is worth the effort. If, on the other hand, the GCCI’s letter is driven by the former (calculated gamble), then it is on its own, and no Guyanese should want to be a part of such a scheme. Not for US$2B, or the US$769M component that now sits on the desk of EXIM’s President, Reta Jo Lewis.
The pages of that loan application are getting a tad curled at the edges, and that musty smell long associated with mildew, or what has gathered cobwebs. I think the Yankee bankers are there because of their conservative nature. Take it from me, stodgy Washington is not rambunctious and reckless Wall Street. Something is bothering those people over there in DC and, all things being regular, it is what should have caused some degree of unease with the lovely folks at the GCCI. Their enthusiasm for the costly project is fully understood. By the same token, they, in turn, should understand full well why there are Guyanese who do not see eye to eye with them (the GCCI), or the rumormonger man, Dr. Jagdeo, on this mysterious project, and the haziness surrounding its components.
I think that it was a step too far, one uncalled for, when the GCCI saw it fit to pad its boxing gloves with horseshoes, and let loose on those standing in the way of the project. The GCCI came out swinging from the hip by condemning “certain attempts by a small minority of individuals to discredit the project and discourage the US Bank from providing the financial support to complete the project.”
I cast no stone at the good people in the GCCI. But something still has to be said. Everyone wants cheap, reliable electricity. I do. Safety is another priority concern. It is so here. But only as all of these are backed up by a feasibility study worth its name. Being in business, the GCCI should know this better than most. Potential exposures and risks have as much standing as opportunity and profits. To the GCCI I say this: give us something so that we can all get going. Give us what is in hand. If not, this is more than going the extra mile for the flawed. It is the GCCI making a fool of itself when it should know better.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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