Dec 13, 2010 Editorial
The government has once again turned its guns on the Kaieteur News. After a gratuitous crack that we “accepted international funding to attend the Cancun Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”GINA accused us of peddling a “falsehood… about the reason for the delay in the disbursement of funds from Norway”.
What are the facts on the issue? While attending the UNFCC COP 16 meeting at Cancun, Mexico, President Jagdeo was a member of a high-powered panel organised by Avoided Deforestation Partners (ADF). In the words of Juliet Eilperin of the most prestigious Washington Post, who we hope the government does not believe is seized with the Kaieteur’s “domestic prejudices”, ADF “brought together politicians, financiers and conservationists for a high-level discussion on how best to preserve the world’s tropical forests — but even the group’s founder, Jeffrey Horowitz, couldn’t have predicted the fireworks between Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo, and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg about how long it’s taking to compensate the South American nation for preserving its forests.
“Norway has already agreed to provide $250 million to Guyana over the next four decades if it manages to preserve its entire tropical forest, which is larger than the size of England. But in the opening panel, Jagdeo complained that his country is still waiting to get paid for its efforts. “The international community has a very poor track record of delivering help,” he said, adding that he appreciates Norway’s generosity. “But I can’t get the money.”
“In an interview after the panel discussion, Jagdeo explained that, while his government proved in January it had fulfilled the first part of its commitment to Norway, it was just on the verge of getting the first $30 million of Norway’s pledge. He placed the blame for the delay squarely on the World Bank, which he said has repeatedly stalled in handing over the money.”
Responding immediately to the report through the innovation of the comments feature Yvonne Tsikata, World Bank Director for the Caribbean pointed out, “as a trustee we cannot disburse any funds to the implementing partners –such as the UN and the Inter American Development Bank- before getting the green light from a Steering Committee comprised of Norway and Guyana. Up to now, the Committee has not instructed us to transfer any funds. We cannot act faster than the Steering Committee.”
Since Guyana according to President Jagdeo so desperately needs the money we can safely surmise that it is Norway that has not signed along the dotted line. Ms. Tsikata helpfully provided Norway’s reason for balking, “Since this is considered development assistance, Norway wants to make sure that funds are used in the most transparent and effective way. Once transferred to project implementers, GRIF funds must be spent applying adequate financial management, safeguards and controls.”
At the faceoff, with President Jagdeo, the President of Norway confirmed this position. In the words of Ms. Eilperin of the Washington Post, “Stoltenberg responded by explaining that Norway was willing to disburse its forestry funds only once the country in question had proven it had sequestered carbon in its trees. “Results are what we’re looking for,” said Stoltenberg, who noted that his country finances its large foreign aid budget through high taxation on petroleum, among other things. “It’s hard to win elections on a message of high taxation.”
It is obvious that President Jagdeo does not have the courage of his convictions. He knows that Norway is dissatisfied with some aspect of Guyana’s plans or track record for the release of the funds it has committed to our GRIF. However, rather that calling a spade a spade, the president and GINA are trying to divert the blame for the delay onto the World Bank. Even more cowardly, they are blaming the messenger that brought the news: the Kaieteur News.
If the president is disgruntled with the answer of the World Bank, why does he not take the matter up directly with that institution? As it is he has created more enemies than friends for Guyana after his display of petulance.
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