The government yesterday admitted that its sloth in finalising project documents is what is delaying the release of funds under the country’s forest-saving deal with Norway, despite accusations by President Bharrat Jagdeo that the World Bank was responsible for the delay.
The Guyana Government has not submitted a single project for funding to the Steering Committee which has to approve the projects and allow for the release of Norwegian funds.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon confirmed this yesterday, saying that the delay in submitting the project documents had to do with “some sloth”, some of which he said was unavoidable, while other delays had to do with corrections that had to be made after consultations with third parties regarding the design of the projects.
Dr Luncheon’s admission of the delay on the government’s part comes almost three months after President Bharrat Jagdeo derided the World Bank for delaying the release of the funds.
Norway has entered into a five-year agreement with Guyana, worth US$250 million, to help finance the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). The LCDS was developed by the government to save the country’s rainforest – the size of England – in global efforts to combat climate change.
Guyana and Norway agreed to appoint the World Bank as a Trustee of the Fund and the first tranche of US$30 million has been deposited with the World Bank, but the money cannot be released unless projects are approved by the steering committee.
“The first payment (US$30 million) has been disbursed to the Trustee of the Fund (World Bank) and will be disbursed for projects in Guyana as soon as projects have been presented to and approved by the Steering Committee of the Fund,” Elisabeth Brinch Sand, Press Officer with the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative told Kaieteur News recently.
On the heels of the high level segment of the UN Climate Change Summit in Cancun in early December, President Jagdeo harshly criticised the World Bank, which he said was delaying the release of the funds.
“Although we have fulfilled the condition to receive payment from Norway a year ago….we have not seen a single cent expended as yet on the projects that are so vital to transformation,” Jagdeo told an event organised by Avoided Deforestation Partners in Cancun.
Upon his return from the UN Climate Summit, Jagdeo said he was hopeful that the first tranche of money would be released by the end of January this year, and the other tranche of US$40 million, would be released by the end of the first quarter of this year.
The first tranche of the money, the President has said, would be spent placing a solar panel in every Amerindian home, hiring surveyors to demarcate Amerindian lands, and giving Amerindian communities a maximum of US$25,000 to transform their village economies.
None of the actual designs of these projects has been completed, Dr Luncheon indicated, saying that they are being finalised.
No money can come unless they are formally submitted for approval, and any further releases are dependent on strict guidelines.
“The next disbursement to the Trustee of the fund will be made when the verification reports (results verification) have been completed and analysed and the funding requirements for the next period established,” Sand pointed out.
Ironically, it is Guyana which chairs the Steering Committee that serves as the oversight and decision-making body of the Guyana REDD Investment Fund, under which the Norwegian Funds are being managed.
The Members of the Steering Committee come from the governments of Guyana and Norway.
In November 2009, Norway and Guyana signed on a Memorandum of Understanding declaring the two countries’ determination to provide a working example of how partnerships between developed and developing countries can save the world’s tropical forests.
The agreement was seen as one of the first examples of results-based payments for reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide from deforestation and forest degradation on a national scale.
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