Aug 27, 2010 News
– assures support for, impressed by efforts of Guyana Govt.
The Norwegian State Secretary, Ministry of Finance Hilde Singsaas yesterday wrote to Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud clarifying his country’s position as it relates to the divestment from Barama Company Limited, Samling Global Limited.
In that letter, Ms. Singsaas informed Persaud that the recommendation document to exclude Samling Global Ltd. largely concerns itself with the company’s activity in Sarawak, Malaysia.
The description regarding Samling Global Ltd’s daughter company Barama’s activities in Guyana primarily relates to events that took place some time ago, and as such would seem to reflect criticism of Barama already expressed publicly by Guyanese authorities.
She explained that the recommendation of the Council on Ethics does not opine on the extent of deforestation, forest degradation or environmental damage in Guyana, nor does it assess the forest policies of the Government of Guyana.
“Norway strongly supports and is impressed by the efforts of the government of Guyana to create a low-carbon and low-deforestation future, and remains a committed partner to Guyana in these efforts…On behalf of the Norwegian Government, I would like to emphasise that we look forward to continued good cooperation between Guyana and Norway in our common quest to create a low-carbon and low-deforestation future.”
It was explained that last Saturday the Norwegian Ministry of Finance announced its decision to divest from the Malaysian company Samling Global Ltd, which also has operations in Guyana.
The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has divested from 51 companies on the basis of recommendations from the Council on Ethics.
The Council on Ethics makes its recommendations independently of the Norwegian Government. Its mandate is to recommend to the Minister of Finance companies where an investment by the GPFG risks breaching the Ethical Guidelines of the Fund.
Ms Singsaas explained that it is a principle that the recommendation should be forward looking and assess future risks, and also that it shall concern itself with companies’ subjective activities.
The Minister’s final decision on whether or not to divest from a company is made on the basis of the Council’s recommendation.
This, it was explained does not mean that the Minister has made an independent assessment of every claim or opinion in the Council’s recommendation, but rather that the Minister is satisfied that the recommendation document establishes beyond sufficient doubt that an investment in the company represents an unacceptable future risk of violating the Ethical Guidelines.
Following the announcement by the Norwegian Finance Ministry Persaud had sought to clarify stating that the Reuters article relaying the story had misrepresented the operations of Barama in Guyana.
He had also indicated his intention to make formal representation to the Norwegians to seek to clarify the issue.
The Government Pension Fund Global Norway’s repository of oil revenues follows ethical guidelines set by the government, and among the companies it refuses to invest in are those that produce nuclear weapons or cluster munitions, damage the environment or abuse workers’ rights.
“The Council on Ethics has assessed Samling Global, and concluded that the company’s forest operations in the rainforests of Sarawak and Guyana contribute to illegal logging and severe environmental damage,” Finance Minister Sigbjoern Johnsen had said in a statement.
Persaud subsequently rebuffed an article, “Norway oil fund excludes 2 Israeli companies” which he said conveyed the wrong message about logging operations in Guyana, and as such he had to offer some clarifications on a specific statement in the article.
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