16 January 2011

Iceland opportunity lost

Danny Williams’ obsession with signing something he could have called a Lower Churchill deal before he quit politics ignored a far better opportunity for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

According to documents released by Wikileaks, the Icelandic government sought American financial assistance in 2008 to deal with its crushing foreign debt situation. The government was looking for a loan of $1.0 billion with “medium term maturity”.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government had twice that much in cash at the time as the result of gigantic oil price windfalls.  It also had the capacity to borrow billions more if needed. The Icelandic loan would have guaranteed payoff from the interest rate charged.  An Icelandic bailout might also have given the provincial government influence in Iceland and the country’s energy and fishing industries.

Instead, the Williams administration pursued his obsessive desire to develop something on the Lower Churchill river that would enable him to retire from politics.

Under Williams’ retirement plan,  the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador will have to borrow almost three times the size of the Icelandic bailout and face guaranteed doubling of current electricity rates to finance a dam on the Churchill River and expensive transmission lines.

- srbp -