I thank Dr Roger Luncheon for his attempt by way of a press release issued through his office to educate me about the Amaila Falls Hydro-Electric Project (AFHEP). In the release, Dr Luncheon kindly suggested that if I and others like Dr Janette Bulkan want to move from the “periphery of public discourse” – to which he has banished us – onto ground where we will be respected by governments, civil society and international organisations, then we need to start getting our facts right. Respect from any government that deprives citizens of their fundamental rights, ignores the constitution and the rule of law, tolerates and itself engages in suspect, secret and unlawful transactions, practises nepotism and discrimination and is inept and incompetent is not something I would ever wish or welcome. And as for civil society and international organisations, I take it that even Dr Luncheon could not be so bold as to think he can speak for them.
Devoting part of his statement specifically to me, Dr Luncheon said that a letter I wrote in the press on Monday, April 11, 2011 (‘Serious questions remain about the LCDS…’), proves that I do not “understand the basics” of what is being proposed for Amaila Falls. These were his words: “He [Ram] repeatedly claims that the Amaila Falls Hydro Power project is being built by Mr Fip Motillal and Synergy Holdings. This is not true – the project is being built by the Sithe Global group of companies.”
Let me reciprocate in a mutual education exercise with Dr Luncheon by quoting from Synergy Holdings’ website: “Synergy Holdings Inc. is involved in this project (The Amaila Falls Hydro-electric Project (AFHEP)) as the developer to design, build, own and operate a hydroelectric plant in Guyana.”
Let us assume that that is what lawyers call ‘puff,’ or ‘big talk’ to use a more popular phrase. Does Dr Luncheon honestly not know that in 2002 Synergy and Harza International were granted a licence by the Government of Guyana under the Hydro-Electricity Act Cap. 56:03 for the development of a hydroelectric plant at Amaila Falls? And that the licence was amended and extended in 2004 when Harza pulled out leaving Synergy as the sole licensee? And that the licence was again extended in 2006 for one year?
For Dr Luncheon’s benefit, let me quote from the preamble of a Memorandum of Agreement dated May 23, 2006 between Synergy, GPL and the Government of Guyana on whose behalf no less a person than Prime Minister Sam Hinds signed.
“WHEREAS, SYNERGY proposes to construct a hydroelectric plant at Amaila Falls in Region 8 of West-Central Guyana, has conducted a detailed feasibility and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and has received a licence from the GoG and an environmental permit from the Guyana Environ-mental Protection Agency to construct the Amaila Falls Hydro Power project…”.
Perhaps Dr Luncheon thinks that by recruiting Sithe as contractors or project managers, Synergy is relieved of its obligations, liabilities and responsibilities under the licence. If so, he could not be more wrong.
It is worth noting that Dr Luncheon avoided my question about the basis and logic for the government putting LCDS money into a project which reverts to the state after a defined term. Instead, he diverts into a discussion about Sithe with which Synergy seems to have worked a deal which leaves Mr Fip Motilall to make money simply by playing the role of speculator and being the President, Chairman and CEO of what is turning out to be a government-financed/guaranteed company, using precious national and natural resources covering thousands of acres.
It is dangerous when the Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary and chief spokesperson of the government is not only badly informed but is unable to understand the implications of the increasingly reckless decisions by the government even in the light of what are simple, clear and direct questions. Even as he accuses me of lacking basic understanding, I respectfully offer a word of advice to Dr Luncheon, who I think is a good and well-meaning man: among his colleagues in Cabinet and government, are few persons on whom he should rely for accuracy of information, integrity, competence, moral rectitude and courage.
Dr Luncheon is a busy but clearly tired and overworked gentleman, of whom any expectation of a continuing public exchange concerning the facts about Amaila, Synergy, Mr Motilall and LCDS money would be unreasonable. So instead, I ask him to use his influence to have publicised the licence(s), extensions, agreements including that of May 2006, and the terms and conditions for cash and other inputs by the government towards the Amaila Hydro-electric project. That would be immensely helpful to persons including Dr Bulkan and me.