The Telegram (St. John's)

Muskrat Falls debt clock ticks away


An under-budget mega-project is about as rare as a dodo bird riding a unicorn but, seriously, are we to believe the blaring and pretentiou­s utterings of Danny Williams claiming that the Muskrat Falls cost overruns are normal?

A quick review of the numbers might be in order. Danny’s initial cost was $5 billion; in 2012 (at project sanction), $6.2 billion; in 2013, $6.5 billion; in 2015, $7 billion; June 2016, $11.4 billion.

Fast-forward to June 2017 and the Muskrat Falls debt clock skips ahead to $12.7 billion and is still ticking!

While calling Stan Marshall a “buffoon,” the former premier defends his legacy project by attempting to normalize the cost overruns with Trumpian-like alternativ­e facts.

His flippant assertion that the Vale Long Harbour nickel smelter project went “three or four times overbudget,” is patently false. This project went from a $2.17 billion to $3.6 billion, for a cost overrun of some 66 per cent, a far cry from the Danny-factoid!

Hibernia was 65 per cent over budget, while Terra Nova was 53 per cent.

Using the sanction cost, Muskrat Falls is now 105 per cent overbudget and counting.

And let’s not forget the sudden tripling of the operationa­l costs from $36 million per year to $105 million.

If crippling cost overruns are as “normal” and “fact of life” as Danny asserts, then shouldn’t they have been predictabl­e?

If they are so normal and expected, why didn’t he mention them on Nov. 18, 2010 when he signed his much-ballyhooed term sheet?

The one fact Danny convenient­ly ignores when he foists project cost overruns comparison­s on us is that his examples leave the financial burden on the backs of private sector companies. Muskrat Falls cost overruns are on the backs of N.L. ratepayers!

Danny can scowl, name-call and obfuscate all he wants, but facts are facts.

Muskrat Falls is an ill-conceived, ill-planned, ill-managed and ill-executed project. It will be a significan­t burden on the fiscal health of the province and a back-breaking financial strain on individual ratepayers.

Muskrat Falls fits all the attributes of a boondoggle.

Danny just can’t face the facts or a straight-shooter like Stan Marshall uttering them.

So, who is the real buffoon?

Ken Kavanagh, Sr. Bell Island

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