In this week’s column we examine the recent developments as regards the agreement between Guyana and Norway. Guyana is complaining that the World Bank is not moving fast enough to have the funds disbursed.
The World Bank, more or less, is saying that there are procedures to be followed. This does not change anything for Guyana which by now should have been in receipt of the first US$30M under the agreement.
This has caused our President to become very animated. During a panel discussion on climate change, he made known his displeasure at the fact that Guyana had met its obligations under the deal with Norway but is yet to receive a cent.
The President reportedly made these comments in the presence of the Prime Minister of Norway who really cannot be blamed for the delays being experienced. Under the agreement signed between Guyana and Norway, it is the World Bank which has to conduct the necessary verification and it seems they are awaiting a formal meeting of a committee before making any authorised disbursements.
The Norwegians therefore cannot be blamed and it is doubtful whether the President of Guyana intended to blame them for the delay. The more salient message of his comments is that outside of a global deal, there is a need for existing agreements concerning financing for climate change should be honoured in a timely manner since these agreements can serve as a model for future agreements and eventually a momentum can be established that would lead to a global deal.
Once the World Bank prevaricates on the disbursement of the funds due to Guyana, it is not helping the fight against climate change. Thus it is necessary for the agreement between Guyana and Norway to be seen as a success but this is being frustrated by the slow disbursement process.
However, the government of Guyana cannot escape culpability for the position in which it finds itself— not being able to source the Norwegian funds. The government is a signatory to the agreement; it was the government that agreed, no doubt under pressure, to allow the World Bank to be the certifying body to ensure that the targets set have been met.
The government signed on the dotted line. It therefore had to know what it was getting into. No one placed a gun to Guyana’s head and forced it to sign the agreement. Once it agreed to involve the World Bank it had to know that there would be procedures to be followed which could delay the release of the funds.
The government cannot claim not to know how the World Bank operates. These agencies do not simply move according to political exigencies. They have their own rules and procedures and Guyana’s President who once had the distinction of having chaired meetings of the Board of the World Bank ought to be familiar with how this agency operates. There can therefore be no excuse.
Guyana can complain all it wants. It is not going to make a difference. The World Bank will do things the way it has always done things and there is nothing that Guyana can do to change that. All the complaining in the world is not going to change anything.
At the same time, however, Guyana does not have to take this sort of treatment. Norway is not doing anything free for Guyana. The funds that are awaiting disbursement are not a gift to Guyana. Guyana is not being given any free lunches under this agreement. Every cent that will be forthcoming has been earned by Guyana.
For Norway, this agreement allows it to meet its commitment to net emission reductions. It can continue to exploit its natural resource and still show that it has a net reduction in emissions through the carbon credits that it is securing under the agreement with Guyana. So Norway is not being generous at all to Guyana. It, too, is benefiting from the agreement.
Guyana can decide to exit from the agreement, but this is not likely. That is not an option that would pass through the minds of our leaders and for the simple reason that Guyana needs the funds.
Thus it will simply have to bury its pride and wait until the World Bank signs the document to authorise the release of the earned funds.
Guyana needs these funds. Norway needs what comes with the agreement and the World Bank obviously intends to follows it established procedures before authorising the release of the funds.
Guyana has made known its frustration. It is now time for an assertive round of diplomacy to push the World Bank into third gear. Complaints will not matter. There has to be a studied response geared to ensure that Guyana begins to receive the money that it has earned.
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