‘APNU+AFC blocked Amaila project’ – Finance Minister debunks Patterson’s denial of Opposition’s role in derailing project

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Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, on Friday, lambasted the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) for blocking the construction of the 165-megawatt Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP).

In wrapping up the debate of Budget 2023 in the National Assembly on Friday, Dr Singh cited an article published by Demerara Waves in 2013 titled, ‘AFC support was “lifeline” for Amaila Project- Ramjattan’, as he responded to AFC Member of Parliament, David Patterson.

Patterson earlier in the week told the National Assembly that the Opposition was not responsible for the project never taking off.

But Dr Singh sought to remind him that AFC once supported Guyana’s hydropower ambitions when they voted with the PPP/C in the National Assembly in 2013 to pass the Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill and a motion to up the debt ceiling from GUY$1B to GUY$50B.

AFC Member of Parliament, David Patterson during his contribution to the debate of Budget 2023 (Photo: DPI/January 2023)

At the time, the PPP/C was a minority government led by Donald Ramotar.

“I don’t want to speculate on what considerations may have influenced their support at that time but they supported it. They appear now, conveniently, to have forgotten that they supported it but the records are there,” the Finance Minister argued.

Dr Singh said the AFC supported the project when it was proposed to reduce electricity costs. He then explained that the Opposition, with or without expert knowledge, decided to block the possibility of the project becoming a reality.

The Finance Minister highlighted that experts and investors were ready to aid Guyana’s efforts to pursue a more low-carbon future but the Opposition voted down the project in the National Assembly in 2015.

The hydropower project, which was set to produce 165 Megawatts of power, was launched in 2009 but in 2013, its major investor, Sithe Global Inc. pulled out due to lack of consensus in Parliament.

In 2014, Norway, under its climate partnership with Guyana transferred US$80M to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to fund the project.

However, after assuming office in 2015, the then APNU+AFC Government in partnership with Norway decided to conduct “an objective and facts-based” assessment of the project and subsequently, terminated the project.

“Amaila Falls did not happen as a direct consequence of actions taken by APNU+AFC in this House. Notwithstanding, the last-minute change of heart by the AFC.

“I am saying definitively…Amaila Falls did not happen because of direct obstruction by the APNU+AFC and Sir, my second point in that regard is that for Mr Patterson to now come and try to rewrite history as if none of this happened. This is in the Parliamentary record, it’s in the media…to say that APNU+AFC played no role in this at all. Sir, I fear that I could not adequately describe what he (Patterson) would have committed in that regard, without venturing into the realms of severely unparliamentary language,” Dr Singh argued.

He added, “Once again, Mr Patterson tried to hoodwink the people of Guyana.”

The Amaila Fall Hydro Power (AFHP) project [Photo taken from Ministry of Public Infrastructure website]
The Amaila Falls project was first identified in 1976 by the Canadian company ‘Monenco’ during an extensive survey of hydroelectric power potential in Guyana.

Consistent with a commitment given by the ruling PPP/C to resume work to advance this project in the Party’s 2020 manifesto, the government has resumed efforts to realise this flagship project under the new and expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

The AFHP is expected to lower the cost of electricity needed to power Guyana’s economic diversification and transformation into a low-carbon economy, as well as reduce the cost of power to businesses and households.

The project will also support initiatives such as the electrification of transport and e-mobility and accelerate the development of a robust ICT sector needed for an interconnected world as well as a competitive manufacturing sector.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali in December last year highlighted that several of Guyana’s partner countries signalled an interest in pursuing this project.

Investors from Canada and the United States of America are among those who could bid on the project, the Guyanese Head of State had told reporters.

The China Railway Group Limited, the company initially selected to construct the Amaila Falls in 2012, was once again granted approval to construct this massive renewable energy project in 2021 but that fell through when the company wanted to change the model.

The company was unable to secure the necessary financing for the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model. Resultantly, the Chinese company requested to change the contract to an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) model.

The government was not keen on the EPC model and is seeking an investor who will deliver the BOOT arrangement. With BOOT, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo explained previously, the government would be assuming a low amount of risk.

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1 Comment
  1. Xhrp2wkb1 says

    Lies from politicians??!! Can’t be. I refuse to believe it. These are holy people.

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