Harmon labels Opposition’s complaint to Norwegians as ‘anti-national’

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Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, has accused the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) of being unpatriotic, after the party, through the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, wrote the Norwegian Government complaining about being left in the dark when it comes to the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP)

Opposition MP Gail Teixeira State Minister Joseph Harmon
Opposition MP, Gail Teixeira                          State Minister, Joseph Harmon

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira on August 24, 2016, wrote to Per F I Pharo, Director of the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, at the Norwegian Environment Ministry, expressing concerns of lack of inclusiveness and transparency.

“Guyanese people were being sidelined in the implementation of the Guyana/Norway Partnership agreement,” the letter stated.

Teixeira also pointed to the lack of progress on several fronts explaining that the new Government had usurped the functions of the stakeholder bodies that were established under the PPP administration to consult with the people, meet and make recommendations about the projects and general implementation of the partnership agreement.

“We feel that this (delay) in the Governance of the Guyana-Norway Partnership Agreement could damage Guyana’s prospects for a generally transformative shift to a low carbon green economy”, she warned in the letter.

Teixeira also lamented the need for the urgent shift to cleaner energy as she reminded Norway of the Opposition’s unmoved commitment towards supporting all initiatives in the agreement and the Amaila Falls in particular towards the achievement of this goal.

The Amaila Falls Review was called for repeatedly by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo after Government decided to put the project on hold because of concerns it had about both the economics and design of the project which was devised under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) tenure.

The review was to be done by the Norwegian company, NORCONSULT. The company has since requested more time to complete its report.

Anti-nationalistic

However, Harmon, at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday described the PPP/C missive as anti-nationalistic. He explained that all information on the Amaila Falls review is in the public domain and that the Government provided full disclosure to the parliamentary Opposition members in a Select Committee.

In this regard, the Minister of State said the move to take the matter to the Norwegian Government is against the country’s national interest.

“It is very fortunate that they’ve taken an anti-national stance on this matter,” he stated.

Minister Harmon disclosed that Government is currently engaged with the Kingdom of Norway and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the way forward for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP).

“It is clear that the decision which was taken was between the Government and the Kingdom of Norway, that they will set up an independent assessor to determine whether it is going anywhere… They (Norway) are still in the process of engaging finally the assessor, so it is not that there is no transparency, and all of this is in the public domain,” he stated.

Hypocritical

However, critics have railed into Harmon and the Government, labelling them “hypocritical” for referring to the Opposition as anti-national when while in Opposition, the AFC, a major partner in the Government coalition did exactly the same thing, wrote to the Norwegian.

Back in December 24, 2014, AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan, now a Vice President and Public Security Minister in the coalition Government had dispatched a similar letter, also to Pharo expressing concerns that there might have been “fundamental breaches” of the Guyana-Norway forest protection agreement as it relates to the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project. At the time, Ramjattan, like Teixeira, was calling for the release of information.

“… it is in the public interest of Norwegians and Guyanese to know what is happening…” Ramjattan had said in his letter, referring to the Amaila project.

At the time, Ramjattan had said that the AFC was concerned that there may be violations and fundamental breaches of the Norway-Guyana Agreement, a five-year pact under which Guyana received up to US$250 million to keep its forest intact.

The AFC leader had said that at the time he was writing Pharo “in the public interest of Norwegians and Guyanese”.

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