Not a cent yet from Norway
By Neil Marks in Cancun, Mexico
Guyana has not received a cent yet from the country’s forest-saving deal with Norway and President Bharrat Bharrat Jagdeo used a gathering in Cancun organized by an international forest network to fume over the delay.
“We don’t have a problem with all the safeguards, particularly ensuring the money is not spent in a corrupt way,” he told a gathering at the Marriott Hotel. “You can do hundreds of audits, but just let us move forward.”
Norway, which has committed to giving Guyana US$250 million over five years, insists it wants to see results, and has appointed the World Bank to manage the delivery of the funds, but Jagdeo is impatient.
“Although we have fulfilled the condition to receive payment from Norway a year ago….we have not seen a single cent expended as yet on the projects that are so vital to transformation,” he said at the event organized by Avoided Deforestation Partners.
Like he has done before, the President used the World Bank as his punching bag to agitate about the fact that the money has not yet reached Guyana.
“We have a lot of friends and good people in the World Bank…but the institution as a whole is not ready and they harm success stories.”
On the panel with Jagdeo at the Marriott Hotel was Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. He suggested that that his re-election campaign could be put in jeopardy if the Norwegian people don’t see results from all the money Norway is doling out to countries like Guyana.
Jagdeo said he agreed with Prime Minister Stoltenberg that Norway would want to see results and ensure the money is spent properly, but insisted that Guyana has delivered but still can’t get the money.
“We have delivered the results, but I can’t get the money,” Jagdeo said. “We’ve delivered the results, and then someone is telling us how we have to spend our money too.”
Norway has already deposited US$30 million to the World Bank to give to Guyana as the first payment, but Stoltenberg is not ready to urge on the World Bank to speed up the process, and Jagdeo’s concerns about not getting the money are not shared by the Norwegian Prime Minister.
As far was Stoltenberg is concerned, the process is going “quite well.”
International governments are looking to find a way to pay countries not to cut down their trees and, say, use it for agriculture, like Guyana suggests it could do and get US$580 million a year.
The initiate is called REDD Plus, and it is under this model that Norway is paying Guyana to keep the forests standing. Jagdeo said the first tranche of the money would be used to invest in the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, give Amerindian communities a maximum of US$25,000 and hire surveyors to demarcate Amerindian lands.
The World Bank envoy Andrew Steer has insisted that the World Bank would do the job it was asked to do by Norway.
Jagdeo expressed worry that Guyana was taking a risk in saving the forest with hopes of being paid for doing so, since the international community has a very poor track record of delivering help.
At the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen last year, rich nations pledged to provide US$30 billion in fast track financing to help poor countries adapt to climate change, but Jagdeo said getting the money is a “nightmare.” He said the money hasn’t been forthcoming.
At the event, Jagdeo used language from his official speech at the UN Climate Summit, to drum up acknowledgment for his position.
He said existing aid commitments are being repackaged by some, including those in Europe, as part of the US$30 billion that was promised for the period 2010-2012. Just like he said in his speech to the UN Summit, he rapped international governments for their glossy brochures on fast track financing.
He said that a decision has not yet been made on which vulnerable countries would benefit from the financing, and so countries should stop pretending that the money is being disbursed.
“If the US$30 billion promised at Copenhagen for the period 2010 to 2012 starts to resemble the kind of dubious accounting that created the financial crisis, then it will worsen, not help solve, the climate crisis.”
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