Dec 19, 2010 Letters
On his return to Guyana after Cancun, Mexico, President Bharrat Jagdeo said he was not agitated about Guyana not having the money from Norway via the World Bank (WB), but about the time the WB is taking to deliver, especially given that it is part of the process in developing national REDD Plans.
The lack of distinction aside, the truth is, during a panel discussion in Cancun on Wednesday, December 8th, he publicly questioned why it was taking so long for Guyana to get its first installment of funds under the agreement with Norway.
Norwegian Prime Minister, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, who was present, responded by explaining that Norway was willing to disburse its forestry funds once the country in question had proven it had sequestered carbon in its trees.
“Results are what we’re looking for,” he emphasised.
The issue, therefore, is not about time, but about trust, thus obviating the question: Why didn’t President Jagdeo produce documentation of the results for the world to see and satisfy Mr. Stoltenberg’s curiosity, which conveyed the impression Guyana did not satisfy the condition to receive the first tranche a year ago?
Even World Bank Director for the Caribbean, Ms. Yvonne Tsikata, echoed Mr. Stoltenberg’s lack of trust sentiment when she said the Norway money is considered development assistance, and Norway simply wants to make sure the funds are used in the most transparent and effective way.
How the President cannot see through all these circuitous explanations that Norway and the WB distrust him and his government is incredulous. He really needs to grow a brain or rent a clue.
And now he appears to have fallen for yet another of their promises that the first tranche (a portion of an investment issue or loan: Thesaurus) will be made available by the end of January and the second tranche will follow before the end of the first quarter.
Then there is the unsettling question of him identifying projects on which to spend the first tranche, while the WB is saying it has not received any proposal of projects on which the money will be spent.
Well, let us get one thing clear: judging from his public agitations, President Jagdeo desperately needs this money for certain projects that may not even have anything to do with fighting climate change.
On October 17, the Guyana Chronicle carried a startling news story, “Norway climate change funds for hydro, fibre-optic cable and land demarcation,” and attributed to the Office of Climate Change (OCC) in the Office of the President.
What does climate change money have to do with the controversial hydro and fibre-optic cable projects where the money will likely wind up benefiting a handful or disappear like the hundreds of millions still to be accounted for or unresolved in other projects involving overpaid government contractors?
According to the Chronicle:
1. The bulk of the first tranche of US$30M for 2010 goes to buying equity in the Amaila Falls hydro-power project (AFHP), to the tune of US$20 million, and for 2011, this amount will be between US$20 million and US$35 million. A further US$5 million may be invested in the Amaila Falls in 2012.
2. Between US$4 million and US$8.2 million will go towards the Amerindian Development Fund in 2010, while in 2011, the figure will be between US$4 million and US$12.3 million.
3. The sum of US$3 million will go to Amerindian Land Titling for both 2010 and 2011.
4. For the fibre-optic cable being procured from Brazil for its e-governance initiative, the government will spend US$4.5 million in 2010 and US$6.5 million in 2011.
5. Between US$1.5 million and US$3 million will be used for the Small and Medium Enterprise and Vulnerable Groups’ Alternative Livelihoods project in 2010 and between US$1.5 million and US$5 million for this purpose in 2011.
6. For the International Centre for Bio-Diversity Research, Low Carbon Curriculum Development and IT Training, a sum of between US$1 million and US$2 million will be utilised in each of the years 2010 and 2011.
7. For Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV), an amount of between US$1.5 million and US$3.7 million will be spent in each year: 2010 and 2011.
So when the WB says it has not received proposals for projects on which the money will be spent, is it (as well as Norway) saying these listed projects do not meet the required standard for releasing the money to Guyana?
And why is the government looking to spend US$40M-US$55M of the Norway money to buy equity in the Amaila Falls Hydro project when this is supposed to be a private BOOT (Build Own Operate Transfer) undertaking? Even the WB’s feasibility study of it won’t be completed until some time in January.
Mr. Editor, I sensed both frustration and desperation in President Jagdeo’s remarks over the Norway money when he said, “We have delivered the results, but I can’t get the money!” It has actually become personal for him.
And so I have to ask these three closing questions: 1) Why is the President so desperate to get the Norway money and invest some of it in the AFHP after he went and signed for a US$500M loan from China for the AFHP earlier this year?
2) Is this so-called equity money from Norway ’s first two tranches really to pay Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall (an over-hyped, over-paid contractor) to finish the controversial road project even though he has no proven track record in road building?
3) Will the recent US$7.5M grant deal Guyana received from China for ‘unspecified projects’ wind up in Motilall’s road project, thus allowing him to hire some of those Chinese who were recently granted Guyanese citizenship?
Norway and the WB would be well-advised to wait until after this government demits office before putting any money into Guyana’s so-called LCDS-based projects that lack transparency and accountability.
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