January 23, 2018

Jagdeo takes Jordan to task over recent comments

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has taken Finance Minister, Winston Jordan to task over comments he made at a recent public event about the Amaila Falls Hydroelectricity Project (AFHP), which he says lacks veracity and does not confirm logical reasons for halting the project.

While Jagdeo admitted that the coalition Government’s intention not to pursue the AFHP has been made known before, he accused Jordan of providing insubstantial evidence and reasoning as to why the now Government has decided not to continue with the projects full implementation.

The opposition leader was making reference to Jordan’s speech made at a recent Guyana Manufacturing Association (GMA) event. While many people were frowning over the speech, according to Jagdeo, policy wise, it lacked substance and vision. “Not a single attempt to address any of the concerns of the manufacturing sector and the services sector in a tangible way, just platitudes,” he added.

The AFHP which formed part of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) was the brainchild of Jagdeo, which was commissioned in 2009. And having taken up office in 2015, the now Government had repeatedly stated its disapproval to resurrecting the project.

But the former president believes that the coalition has killed the project, although it was set to provide Guyana with massive source of electricity. “This is the year we would have turned on the switch and hydro power would have flowed through the country,” he said.

No debt

He reminded that arrangements under the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government would have guaranteed that the Government would not have incurred any debt for this project.

In fact, part of the financing was expected to come from a Norwegian grant to buy equity into the project. The remainder of the project would have been privately funded by the contractors who were expected to sell power to Government, some through equity and some through a loan.

Jagdeo said, “But we would have bought power at half of the price that we were generating power at 2012 because of the price of oil at that time which was about 20 cents per kilowatt an hour…we would have bought power at 10 cents per kilowatt an hour.”

Although there were concerns about some technical issues with the project, Jagdeo explained that these were dealt with. An evaluation found that a reservoir could have been constructed to facilitate the continuous flow of power, in the event the dry season stepped in.

Addressing the issue of alleged corruption associated with the AFHP, which Jordan sought to address during the private sector event, Jagdeo said although there were some concerns raised about the then contract associated with Fip Motilall, he has repeatedly called on the Government to release the evaluation report done by a technical team when the bids were received.

“They have a copy of the report and you would see that the politicians had no role in evaluating the bid. We gave it to the lowest tender and I saw some pictures of the road, the roads done by that contract are holding up strongly,” Jagdeo further added.

The PPP/C Government seeking financing for the project through multilateral banks is untrue, Jagdeo said, explaining that his Government never approached any multilateral financial institutions except the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for some equity but not on a major scale. He said most funds were expected to come from the private sector.