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Jordan ‘deaf’ to alarms sounded in IMF report, gov’t giving up billions by stalling Amaila project – Jagdeo

Alarm bells sounded in the latest report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are being ignored by the government, more particularly, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.

This is according to Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, a former president and finance minister. At his last news conference, held at his Church Street (July 12, 2017), he said, “Jordan is deaf to the alarm bells.”

Giving examples, the Opposition Leader, pointed to the IMF’s comments on the fact that government’s borrowing trend is expected result in an increase in the debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio. The IMF has said that the debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to reach 61 per cent of GDP by 2019 and has recommended fiscal adjustments.

Jagdeo also pointed to the IMF’s comments on the exchange flexibility and the call for foreign currency to be auctioned by the Bank of Guyana. He charged that government is ignoring this proposal given that the if this is done, the true value of Guyana’s currency will be exposed.

The impact of government policy on non-performing Loans (NPLs) was not missed by the IMF. And the Fund has warned the government to be “mindful of the large social impact’ and the need ‘to protect those affected’ by the process of change in the industry.

Meanwhile, government is giving up billions that could have been saved, according to the Opposition Leader.

The insubstantial evidence and lack of reasoning proffered by Jordan, on the state of affairs with the Amaila Falls Hydro-power Project, also saw him coming in for blows.

Jagdeo noted that the recently released report from the independent consultants, Norconsult AS, saw government pledging its “devotion” to the project, while different utterances are made by government officials locally.

The independent, facts-based assessment of the Amaila Falls Hydropower project in Guyana, which was done by an independent Norway-based engineering and design consultancy firm, Norconsult AS, found that the project is the only realistic path for Guyana to achieve greater levels of renewable energy. “The fastest way forward is to maintain AFHP as the first major step for substituting its current oil fired generation. AFHP was prioritised as the first hydropower plant because it was the only project with a full feasibility study completed, it has a higher plant load factor than the alternatives, a smaller reservoir and a levelised unit cost in the same range as the most attractive alternatives,” the summary of the 49-page report said.

Jagdeo said, “This is the year we would have turned on the switch and hydro power would have flowed through the country.”

He added that Guyana could have saved billions if the project was not killed by the Coalition government – a project that would not have incurred “a single cent” of debt for the country. “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 an hour…we would have bought power at 10 cents per kilowatt an hour,” the Opposition Leader said.

On the continued criticisms of the project by Government, he repeated his call for the evaluation report done by a technical team, when the bids were received, to be released.

Jagdeo also rapped Jordan for mouthing platitudes at the GMSA event, which was billed as a forum where Jordan would address ‘The Guyanese economy, its growth projection and constraints’.

The invitation from the GMSA said, “The intention is for all persons present to hear firsthand the socio-economic policies, strategies and programmes to be adopted by government in the stimulation and transformation mechanisms needed for movement towards a green economy.”

The Opposition Leader said, “(There was) 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 made clear that the “photo-ops” and “reality” are different; adding that Jordan’s presence at the GMSA was not backed up with real assurances of support for those on the ground in the manufacturing and services industry.

Presently, Guyana’s GDP growth has dropped, according to the latest figures released, compared to the years of consistent growth.

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