The Norwegian Prime Minister, Jan Stoltenberg, was sitting right next to Mr. Jagdeo when the latter bemoaned the non-receipt of the $US15M that should have been delivered to Guyana as part of its REDD agreement with Norway. The Prime Minister from Scandinavia was unmoved by Mr. Jagdeo’s theatrics. He simply said that he wants to see if the country in question (in this case, Guyana) has sequestered the carbon in the trees. What this means is that Norway is not yet satisfied that Guyana has met the required goal in exchange for the money.
Given the unlimited latitude Mr. Jagdeo enjoys in Guyana (where he can do anything and everything he wants) Mr. Jagdeo, in a moment of delusion, believed he could have told Norway to hand over the money just as he tells Guyanese stakeholders and citizens what to do. In not getting his money, Mr. Jagdeo must have come to the realization that once he leaves the borders of Guyana, his power of omnipotence evaporates in the atmosphere.
Mr. Stoltenberg looked at Mr. Jagdeo and told him something that must have embarrassed the Guyanese President, not that he didn’t know about it before. The PM intoned that the money for Guyana (and other TW countries) comes from high taxation on the Norwegian petroleum industry and the citizens resent such high impositions and it could cost him his re-election bid. What does that tell you about Norwegians’ attitude to REDD? Norway is one of the world’s biggest environmental polluters. One would like to think that its citizens would be happy to share the tax burden once it allows for the success of REDD. But no. Mr. Stoltenberg thinks that deals with TW countries as what Norway signed with Guyana could have electoral setbacks.
How interesting that President Jagdeo has secured our forests from logging investors but Norway continues to contribute to global warming and its citizens are not impressed with high taxation on its energy sector to achieve REDD. This was one of the sharpest condemnations leveled against Mr. Jagdeo when he discovered his LCDS toy. Why were Third World countries going out of their way to prevent investment activities in their forests when their efforts were not matched by the developed world? Norway is an egregious example. It continues to secure its high income from its oil resources.
After the discomforting subtleties he endured from Mr. Stoltenberg in Cancún, Mr. Jagdeo took another beating from the Work Bank’s Director for the Caribbean region, Ms. Yvonne Tsikata. Reacting to Mr. Jagdeo’s temper in Cancùn, she wrote that the money from Norway to Guyana is development assistance and therefore Norway would insist on transparency in its spending. This is where Mr. Jagdeo got conned in the first place by Norway. In economics, there is the concept of bartering in trade. If Japan needs uranium and Guyana needs cars for which it has no foreign exchange to purchase them, then barter can be arranged. In such a transaction, there is an exchange and no aid or grant was involved.
In strict economic terms, the Norway-Guyana agreement on REDD does not constitute development assistance. Guyana is given carbon credits for preserving the forests and in exchange it is paid by richer countries to do so. This then is an exchange. The money cannot be subsumed under development assistance, therefore Norway cannot attach conditions. Norway did not give Guyana money as a form of financial help. Guyana is preventing investment in its pristine forest which in the process reduces pollution and in turn is rewarded for so doing.
For all the talk about Mr. Jagdeo being a champion, the champion signed on to this one-sided deal. Knowing that Guyana is a corrupt country, Norway is insisting on transparency and accountability. It has a right to do so but not within the context that it is giving aid to Guyana. Of course the World Bank is conning Mr. Jagdeo. Everybody is conning Mr Jagdeo. The World Bank proclaims it is just a dispenser of the funds. It is for Norway (and Guyana on a steering committee) to decide on the moment of release. But behind the scenes, the World Bank is probably advising Norway to thread carefully with Guyana since it is one of the world’s leading kleptocracies. Norway will want to see how every cent is spent because it must have been informed that aid money for projects is where the kleptocrats get their riches from. They are stealing from the contracts for projects while refusing to implement the World Bank request for a Procurement Commission.
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