Ramotar urges unity on Guyana hydro project


President Donald Ramotar has urged opposition legislators to put aside their differences with the government and allow legislation that would ensure that Guyanese nationals benefit from cheap electricity in the future.


Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh has said that the passage of Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill as well as the accompanying motion to increase the guarantee limit of loans, from GUY$1 billion to $150 billion (One Guyana dollar = US$0.01 cents) was necessary to ensure the continued development of the country.


The Alliance for Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) control 33 of the 65 seats in the National Assembly, and debate on the issue as well as the long-awaited reformed local government bills have been deferred .


The opposition legislators want the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government to support reforms to the local government laws, the establishment of a Public Procurement Commission (PPC) to fight corruption and the presidential assent of opposition-piloted bills.


“This project should not be seen as a PPP/C project; it should be seen as a national project… we had profound consultations, the Opposition have as much information on this project as we ourselves have; we have shared almost everything,” President Ramotar said.


He dismissed suggestions that the project is too big an investment for Guyana.


“We have to do everything we can to put this project back on stream. This is not the type of project with which we can bargain, its importance to the future development of this country must be recognised by all. All should buy-in to this,” Ramotar told a consultation forum on Thursday.


He said when the PPP assumed office in 1992, the main focus at that time was fixing the social and physical infrastructure which was in a state of collapse.


He said while most of the target had been achieved to the point Guyana is now described as a middle-income developing country.


President Ramotar said, however there is need for new technologies and improved infrastructure if Guyana is to attain the status as a developed country.


“This has been mentioned in the manifestoes of other political parties as well, implying that there is the recognition for projects such as this,” he said.


He said it was recognised as far back as the 1960s that the unavailability of cheap, reliable energy is one of the biggest inhibiting factor to Guyana’s development and that subsequent attempts at developing efforts in the past had failed.


He said the country is now very close to realising this dream of obtaining cheap electricity and the hydro project will lead to the development of a strong manufacturing sector, create thousands of jobs, improve the skills and educational capacity, enhance the delivery and quality of services, and facilitate the development of agro-processing industries and value-added.


Government officials say the hydro project is expected to shift Guyana’s reliance on thermal generation to renewable energy, eliminate over 90 per cent of the country’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and provide energy production for approximately 90 per cent of the population.


The 165MW hydropower generation facility has an overall cost of approximately US$840 with Guyana repaying an average of US$100 million annually over a 20-year period to service the loan.


“I believe that whatever our individual political conviction, this project is one that will touch the lives of all Guyanese in a positive way…this will be an enormous boost to our productive capacity and our revenue stream,” President Ramotar said.