– Jagdeo says he “lacks reason”, comments illogicalOpposition Leader 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 said lacked veracity and did not conform to logic as 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 project’s full implementation.The Opposition Leader was making reference to Jordan’s speech made at a recent Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) 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.Finance Minister Winston JordanThe AFHP, which formed part of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), was the brainchild of Jagdeo, and was commissioned in 2009. And having taken up office in 2015, the now Government had repeatedly stated its disapproval of resurrecting the project.But the former President believes that the coalition Government has killed the project, although it was set to provide Guyana with a massive source of electricity. “This is the year we would have turned on the switch and hydropower would have flowed through the country,” he said.No debtJagdeo reminded that arrangements under the People’s 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 would have been private funding from 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 hour…we would have bought power at 10 cents per kilowatt 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 allegation that PPP/C Government sought financing for the project through multilateral banks is untrue, Jagdeo said, explaining that his Government never approached any multilateral financial institution 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.Cut costMaking reference to the independent review of the AFHP which was conducted by Norconsult, a reputable consultancy firm out of Norway contracted by the Government of Norway, Jagdeo said Jordan’s argument did not coincide with what is contained in the 3000 pages of the comprehensive report.Picking up on the statement made by the Finance Minister that “Norway no longer has the appetite for the proposed 165-kilowatt Amaila Falls hydropower station, because Norwegian officials have found some areas of concern,” Jagdeo said Jordan’s comments were distasteful.According to Jagdeo, the Norwegian report in Government’s mind is “useless”. However, he believes that someone should advise the Minister and his Cabinet colleagues to read the report and look at the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract, the environmental and feasibility studies. “None of them read it. I talk to MPs and they still repeat it will be a big debt,” he contended.While referring to various pages of the report, Jagdeo also believes that the only realistic path for Guyana towards an emissions-free electricity sector is the development of its hydropower potential. He also pointed to the report which stated the coalition Government’s commitment to resume the project.More importantly however, the former President quoted a section of page 32 of the report which stated that constructing Amaila would have helped to cut electricity costs by more than 50 per cent for the energy produced by the AFHP or US$3.3 billion over 20 years.“Jordan is talking about saving money and reducing cost. The figure is US$3.3 billion in 20 years nearly G$700 billion by building Amaila. And you know who would have saved it? The consumers of this country. We can’t find $9 billion to keep sugar alive for the next couple of years or the $1.7 billion grant to schoolchildren. But we killed an opportunity that would have saved us that much.”The Opposition Leader has repeatedly called on Government to restart the AFHP immediately, and has said that he was willing to engage in discussions on all the recommendations set out in the report.