The long and constant debate over cost effectiveness on both sides of the Muskrat Falls debate reminds me of the sweet little girl who broke up in tears with too much of “Bronco Obama” and Mitt Romney's election rhetoric.
But as an adult, I look at the project with a different viewpoint.
I know I cannot and do not qualify
to analyse the cost effectiveness of the Muskrat Falls project, but as a responsible citizen I am at liberty to express my unbiased thoughts the way I see it.
My thoughts are somewhat philosophical.
I strongly believe that “issues create conflict and if unresolved, conflict creates deep division.” On the other hand, “value unites.”
Most megaprojects which are of national interest and will remain as a public asset for generations to come are difficult to assess in terms of real cost effectiveness at the time and always will run over budget.
One of the cost issues is that one cannot add the true variables for next 50 to 100 years into your present calculation.
Recently, I read an article stating this project is not cost effective because private investors showed no interest.
No project of this magnitude and nature will ever be taken up by private investors in this province or elsewhere.
Private investors will not be interested to take on the whole project, and rightly so, because they will not see any return on their investment, not a dime in their lifetime. This example adds no weight to the success or failure of this project.
Imagine for a moment we are talking about building Upper Churchill as a flagship project today. The project just would have never happened.
In spite of all its contractual downside with Quebec, Upper Churchill and its full economic benefit will eventually belong to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for generations to come.
This what I call real “value.”
The Hibernia project was not cost effective at the time the project was given the go-ahead. Even though Hibernia will not be there in generations to come, the benefit from Hibernia needs no mention.
Upper Churchill, however, will provide enormous benefit for generations to come and so will Muskrat Falls, if it gets built.
Look more widely
I would like everyone to pause and look around and see all the wonders of the world.
Just look at the pyramids of Egypt and Taj Mahal in India and try to imagine the cost and sacrifices that were made to bury the royals and a loving wife.
Imagine — now, the entire world shares these wonderful treasures and the economy it generates benefits people at all levels and will continue to do so for many more generations.
These are the variables which are impossible to factor into the calculation of such projects. In these scenarios of cost vs. value, value wins hands down.
I feel the Muskrat Falls project may not win the battle on cost now, if the merit of the project is judged by cost alone over a shorter period, but will win my vote on its long-term value.
I would appeal to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to look at the value of this project for our future generations and let the experts do the math to keep the construction costs honest.
The content of this letter is my personal view as a citizen who loves and cares about this province deeply.
P.K. Ganguly writes from St. John's.