The motion to allow the second reading of the Hydro-Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2013 was not carried in the National Assembly, as the opposition voted against it, along with the motion to increase the debt ceiling from $1B to $150B.
Both of these legislations played a major part in government’s US$840M Amaila Falls Project, which is currently awaiting the IDB’s approval. Government has a deadline to ensure the smooth passage of the Bill before July 30 by which final project documentation must be available for submission ahead of the October meeting of the Board of the IDB.
The fact that the Bill did not receive a second reading, and the motion not being carried means that it cannot be brought back to the National Assembly in this life of Parliament.
During the debate, the Opposition refused to contribute and remained silent throughout. The vote ended in a tie – 31 – 31 for the Hydro Bill, as APNU’s Member of Parliament James Bond’s vote was not valid, as he was not in his seat, when asked for his vote.
In his remarks during the debate, Public Works Minister Robeson Benn said that the National Assembly will be sending a negative signal to the international community if the project does not move forward.
Additionally, Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud said that the country’s potential is being withheld. According to the Minister, international political analysts and observers must be startled at the state of events.
“Political analysts, observers would wonder, would be startled, why is it that this nation with this tremendous hydro power potential is discussing whether or not there should be broad support for amendments and eventually the entire project,” Persaud said.
He added, “They will be looking at us here with a level of disappointment that in this age and with all the evidence and all that is before us, we are still talking about having consensus and support of something that is so necessary, so important.”