By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Combined Parliamentary Opposition, using its one seat majority defeated the government when a vote was called in the House on Wednesday, April 16 for the approval of over $22B allocated to the Ministry of Finance for Policy and Administration under capital expenditure.
The Opposition’s objection was particularly against a $16.4B awarded under the heading for equity towards the Amaila Falls Hydropower Plant.
All 33 opposition MPs voted against the funding while only 31 MPs from the government voted in favor of the proposed spending.
Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan, had questioned why money was being requested when a feasibility study by the Inter – American Development Bank (IDB) is yet to be completed.
Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh told the House that the Government, following cuts to funding in 2013 remained engaged with all partners.
He said the IDB and the China Development Bank (CDB) are still doing technical work and anticipate the eminent completion of the IDB due diligence within the coming months.
Dr. Singh also informed the Assembly that Sithe Global, the private sector investor continues to show considerable enthusiasm in the project.
“I urge that you send a signal of tentativeness, that would be good but I can assure that it would be difficult for a large investor to say to its Board approve and invest in a project that the national jurisdiction is not sure on or legislature is reluctant to support,” Dr. Singh pleaded.
He explained that it would be hard for the government to seek international support for the project when the legislature appears undecided as he urged parliamentary support, adding that the administration has no difficulty subjecting itself and the project to Opposition scrutiny.
Despite these pleas from the Finance Minister, the Opposition insisted on its position of non – support.
Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge said there are issues from 2013 which remains unresolved, positing that the best thing would be to wait on the feasibility study and in the meantime address the issues which the Opposition had raised in relation to the financing package and the contract.
Following the votes of disapproval, the Finance Minister said he was at a loss for words and deeply disturbed and disappointed with what had transpired.
He described it as “Opposition callousness and irresponsibility at its worst.” Dr. Singh posited that the move defied all logic and reasoning and is intended to sabotage and derail the project.
“No rhythm, no reason, no logic, no rationale,” Dr. Singh said.