Opposition satisfied with briefing on Amaila Falls

Opposition satisfied with briefing on Amaila Falls

(Demerara Waves) – March 14, 2012

Amaila Falls Hydro-power plant

Guyana’s two opposition parties Wednesday night (March 14, 2012),  expressed satisfaction with government’s explanation about plans to build the US$840 million Amaila Falls Hydro-power plant but at least one party says the talks do not amount to a rubber-stamp.

Using its one-seat majority in the National Assembly, the combined opposition has been flexing its muscles in demanding details from government about several major projects. The decision to provide as much information as possible was made at tripartite meetings among the government and the opposition during the past several weeks.

Alliance For Change (AFC) Executive member, Gerhard Ramsaroop and A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Vice Chairman, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine both welcomed the openness during the presentation on the 165 megawatt facility. The briefing was done mainly by Head of the Privatisation Unit, Winston Brassington.   

“It went very well. We were provided with a lot of information that we did not have before and we agreed that we would study it and come back with questions,” Roopnaraine told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).  Both sides agreed that the questions would be posed in two weeks.

Demerara Waves was told that among APNU’s concerns was the likely impact on residents in the area- a concern that was knocked down by government officials who said the area is uninhabited. Government officials have also assured that the project would have a minimum impact of the environment.

Also attending the meeting were the AFC’s  Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan and Executive Member, Gerhard Ramsaroop.

Ramsaroop noted that he could not divulge sensitive details because of the importance of confidentiality in the on-going negotiations between the Guyana government, China Railway and Sithe Global.

“Mr Brassington was very frank and forthcoming with all the details notwithstanding the fact that the negotiations are on-going,” he said.

Ramsaroop, noting that the documentation could not be delivered in one presentation, said the opposition was keen on finding out how the project would affect the cost of electricity, the scope of the project and previous, current and projected cost.

Amaila Falls Hydropower Project is expected to begin delivering electricity to the grid at Guyana Power and Light’s  Sophia station in late 2015/ early 2016.

On the issue of cost, Ramsaroop said the opposition delegations were told that provision has been made for an escalation of costs due to interest rate, exchange rate and the prices of equipment. The opposition was told that the cost of the project has risen from US$705 million to US$840 million due to rising interest rates and the recent recession.

“They were open and they weren’t trying to hide anything. We are pleased, at this level at the amount of information sharing. It does not mean automatic approval but it certainly means a better working relationship,” he said.

Mention was also made of agreements between the builders of thee hydro-power plant and the Guyana Government and Guyana Power and Light Inc.

Government officials attending the three-hour meeting included Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn; Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds; Finance Minister, Ashni Singh and Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira.

— Post #1196

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