THE Government, through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, submitted a list of projects for financial consideration by the Indian Government, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson, disclosed during his discourse with Toshaos and other Indigenous Leaders on Thursday.
The submission, according to Patterson, was made on Wednesday. The Government of India has made available US$14M grant for developmental projects in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and another US$150M in Line of Credit for solar, renewable energy, and climate change related projects.
The Public Infrastructure Minister told the Indigenous Leaders that, during his meeting with the Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. K. J. Srinivasa on Monday, Guyana was invited to submit proposals for the funding of renewable energy and climate change related projects, in keeping with a commitment made by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to the CARICOM leaders last September. Minister Patterson’s announcement was met with loud rounds of applause.
But even as the Government forges ahead with its plan to bring much-needed development to Guyana, the Opposition, Patterson told the Indigenous Leaders, has been on a mission to block major developmental projects, though unsuccessful.
He explained that though the US$2.25M contract was signed months ago for the design, supply and installation of a 150kw hydropower plant at Chiung River, Kato Village, Region Eight, the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, informed the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), that once in office, the PPP/C will not repay the “loan.”
“Why they have done that? I don’t know…but they were unsuccessful,” Minister Patterson said, while noting that funding for the contract was done in the form of a grant and not a loan from the bank, hence there is no need for repayment. In its letter to the IDB, the Opposition reportedly indicated that the Government was illegal but Patterson said the contention is far from the truth.
“Ladies and gentlemen in Kato, I am pleased to announce to you here, that despite those attempts, the project is going ahead unfettered and will continue,” Minister Patterson said.
When completed in 2020, the Hydro Power Plant will power the Village of Kato and its secondary school. In the future, the transmission lines will be extended to power neighbouring villages, the minister said while noting that the potential of the site “is quite big.”
The establishment of the hydro power plant will complement the Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems across the country. By the end of November, the PV Solar Systems would be producing more than 5 megawatts of electricity.
Minister Patterson said after years of attempting to source funding for the upgrade of the road from Linden to Lethem, one of the most important corridors in the country, the Opposition recently attempted to block the project from being funded.
He noted that the UK Government, under its Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) programme, agreed to co-fund the construction of the first phase of the Linden-Lethem Road Project. The first phase of the project covers approximately 122.5km of road from Linden to Mabura Hill and the construction of a bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari River.
The UK Government had committed approximately US$75M to the project, while an additional US$75M was secured from the Caribbean Development Bank. Added to that, the Government, using some $200M, will upgrade the road between Wisroc Linden and Rockstone to international standards.
Despite these milestone achievements in securing the requisite funds to initiate the project, the Opposition, Patterson said, met with UK and indicated that it will not support the initiative on the basis that Government is “illegal.”
“Ladies and gentlemen despite what you have heard and what you may hear, that project will go ahead and it will be done,” the Public Infrastructure Minister assured the Indigenous Leaders.
While the proposed road upgrade applies only to one section of the Linden-Lethem road, the capital works on the remaining 331.5km of the laterite road will be undertaken through funding from other sources. The remaining capital works would fall under additional phases and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure has already engaged the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) on possible funding for the stretch of road between Mabura Hill and Lethem.
Since taking office, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Government injected $8.7B into the repairs, upgrades and construction of roads. “We have rehabilitated and maintained approximately 2000km fair-weather road in association with the Ministry of Natural Resources,” Minister Patterson reported while adding that over 200 bridges were repaired and built since 2015.
According to him, the Hinterland’s budget has more than doubled since 2014. Capital works for the Hinterland totaled $2B alone for 2019. Minister Patterson was among several ministers of Government who addressed the indigenous leaders during the 13th Annual National Toshaos Council Conference at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on Thursday.