Letter: Amaila is another APNU/AFC scandal, they continue to fib
Truth is truth. When you deliberately twist the truth to misrepresent it, it is lying. I use the word FIB in the title for this article only because editors discourage using the word LIE. But APNU+AFC has lied about AMAILA since they were in opposition and everything they say about AMAILA has been one lie after another.
Their spin on the NORWAY TECHNICAL REPORT on AMAILA exemplifies just how much APNU+AFC rely on lies to misinform and fool people. In a statement, Minister Patterson insists that NORWAY has confirmed APNU+AFC’s long-held position that the AMAILA Hydroelectric Project is flawed and is a mistake. This is an egregious lie, barefacedly lying to the citizens.
The NORWAY Report, on the contrary, urges that the government immediately restart AMAILA as the only and the fastest way to achieve a no-emission electricity system and the most sensible way to guarantee the LCDS and a green economy.
The Report reaffirms the PPP’s position that the BOOT arrangement is the preferred option for financing the project. The report does make reference to certain technical flaws in the design of the project, but pointed out these were previously identified and were in the process of being revised.
The re-tendering process is supported by the PPP and it is the responsibility of those in charge to seek better financial arrangements, if these are possible. It is clear from the report, however, that the cost estimation is similar to other projects of this scale.
The Report also supports the PPP’s position that AMAILA alone cannot meet Guyana’s long-term requirements. In that regards another similar size hydropower project will be necessary. In accordance with the PPP’s position wind and solar power are important adjuncts, but by themselves could not secure an emission-free status.
Had APNU+AFC in opposition and in government supported this transformative project, Guyana today would have been on the verge of reliable, cheap energy now and there would have been no need to subsidize GPL.
From the initial moments, APNU+AFC maximally impeded the project. When the investor requested a consensus position from Parliament, APNU+AFC rejected the motion to support the construction of AMAILA in 2012.
They presented one scurrilous objection after another, but the only pertinent reason remains APNU+AFC’s fear that AMAILA promised a monumental transformation of our country and the lives of our people. They feared AMAILA was too richly endowed with the footprints and DNA of Jagdeo and the PPP. Our people once again became collateral damage in the political mischievousness of the PNC/APNU+AFC nexus.
Having done everything to stop AMAILA in Opposition, APNU+AFC announced unequivocally they will discontinue AMAILA soon after they assumed the seat of government. Since then various leaders of APNU+AFC have given different positions – some saying no decision has been made and others saying that it is no longer on the table.
Now they insult the intelligence of the Guyanese people and also insult Norway, a country that has been a true development partner with Guyana, by insisting that the Norway Report supports their position that AMAILA was a mistake.
The Report speaks for itself and every Guyanese must read the Report. It exposes APNU+AFC as not only pathological liars, but a group of politicians more interested in political machinations.
With AMAILA all of Guyana’s immediate needs for electricity would be met and with AMAILA we can lower our electricity cost from about $US0.40 to under $US0.10 per KWH of energy. This would mean not only lower costs for households, allowing them a better standard of living, but also lower costs would make industries more productive, efficient and profitable.
Guyana’s industries would lower cost of production and become more competitive with similar industries from other countries. We will be more competitive on the local and international markets. More industries and more employment would be created.
Furthermore, whether we call it LCDS (PPP) or “the green economy” (APNU+AFC), an emission-free electricity system is critical. Wind power and solar power are important elements in the mix to produce an emission-free electricity system, but without hydropower, we would never be able to achieve an emission-free electricity grid. The Norway Report confirms that AMAILA is an imperative in our pursuit of an emission-free status. The Report is unambiguous and conclusive on this.
Moreover, Guyana’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) at the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015 committed to achieving zero emission and contribute 52M metric tons to the global carbon dioxide mitigation efforts by 2025. Neither of these commitments are even remotely plausible by 2025 if Guyana does not immediately restart AMAILA.
Indeed, at the present rate, and particularly if oil becomes part of the economic picture in Guyana, we might very well be one of the few countries that increased our emission, rather than achieving reduced emission and rather than reducing carbon dioxide by 52M metric tons, we might well increase it, unless we build AMAILA.
Besides all of this, Guyana has already invested major resources on building the roads to AMAILA and Guyana does not have to invest a single dollar in the construction and operation of AMAILA.
We simply have to purchase the energy generated at an agreed cost starting from about half of what we generate energy at presently and then up to 66% savings. In addition, the annual subvention of more than $9B to GPL would end, freeing up these resources for community development projects and initiatives. Our highways and streets could be affordably lighted up everywhere in Guyana.
But there are other pressing reasons for AMAILA. In May 2014, the Caribbean Development Bank held its Annual General Meeting in Guyana. The President of the CDB alluded to the need for the Caribbean to frontally reject fossil fuel-based energy and to embrace a new energy paradigm.
Dr. Warren Smith insisted that energy cost and reliability rank as among the greatest barriers confronting development in CARICOM. Indeed, energy cost is an albatross weighing CARICOM countries down and stifling our development. More than 90% of CARICOM’s energy is fossil-fuel dependent today. For two major reasons CARICOM countries must pursue a new paradigm: one is purely economics for all the above reasons and the other is environmental and climate change. APNU+AFC’s rejection of AMAILA repudiates the CDB’s position.
The high and volatile price of electricity is “sucking the blood” out of CARICOM economies. Electricity prices in the Caribbean are among the highest in the world, and they fluctuate greatly with the global price of oil. The primary cause of the high cost of electricity is that most Caribbean countries use diesel and heavy fuel oil for electricity generation.
Trinidad and Suriname at about 6 US cents per kilowatt hour are among the lowest cost and similar to charges in the USA. But Antigua at 42US cents and other countries that pay more than 30 US cents pay tariffs that are unsustainable. Guyana’s tariff rates are at about 40US cents per kwh.
Additionally, oil-based energy systems contribute to CARICOM’s carbon footprint. In Guyana, hydroelectricity and solar energy can displace more than 90% of fossil fuel-based energy by 2025. It is in this context that AMAILA looms large.
Terminating AMAILA disregards these realities and the pursuit of a new energy paradigm for Guyana and CARICOM. More than anything else, Dr. Smith’s call for a new energy paradigm in CARICOM in May 2014 was an endorsement of Guyana’s energy strategy under the PPP and of AMAILA.
APNU+AFC has a huge propensity to distort the truth and simply lie in order to confuse and distract the Guyanese people. The truth is the Norway AMAILA Report reaffirms the PPP’s position that AMAILA is sound and urgent. APNU+AFC is true to form and absolutely lying about the report. I wrote on June 23, 2015 that APNU+AFC will regret the decision to terminate AMAILA. Now with the exposure of their lies, AMAILA will stand as another monumental APNU+AFC scandal.
Dr Leslie Ramsammy