The Alliance for Change on April 1, met with Norway’s Environment Minister, Erik Solheim, and his team during his visit to Guyana to express their concerns. The meeting was described as very fruitful.
Alliance For Change Presidential Candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan, yesterday told media operatives that the Norwegian Minister has committed to providing the opposition parties with information related to the projects associated with the US$250M that country will provide to Guyana over the next five years.
Ramjattan said that the Minister indicated that all of the AFC’s concerns will be met. The opposition along with other stakeholders in the process must ask the relevant questions, he said.
According to the AFC Presidential Candidate, “The fact that they have put the monies to be disbursed into international institutions, primarily the World Bank, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and the IDB ensures that there will not be any political biases or any untoward spending and corrupt transactions.”
Ramjattan said that wherever the money will go, whether it is contracts, or to who will provide the solar panels, or demarcation services among others, “(Solheim) has made it clear that those will be subject to the highest procurement procedures.”
He said that Solheim indicated that the IDB and USAID have very stringent international standards.
The AFC Presidential Candidate explained that the party is concerned about what projects the money will be disbursed to. “We find that we are not participants to that…we are not included in that.”
He cited as an example that in the tranche of the first US$30M that there is limited information about where that money will be spent. “However as part and parcel of his (Solheim) response to us he indicated that there will be immediately access to information as to where and how that money is going to be spent.”
Ramjattan indicated, “If we do not get it from the Government of Guyana Solheim suggested that we go to the Norwegian Government.”
Ramjattan said that Solheim assured the party that as long as they ask the questions the Government of Norway will provide the answers, “they (Norway) want absolute transparency and accountability…I am very satisfied with the Norwegians position at this stage.”
Ramjattan also told media operatives that their party has noted that a US$17M out of the US$40M that was paid into the Guyana Red Investment Fund (GRIF) which is held by the World Bank as a second tranche from Norway will go to the empowerment of the Amerindian community in the form of, “Solar panels for Amerindian households, the demarcation of Amerindian lands and processing of titles and US25, 000 project fund for each Amerindian community across Guyana.”
“This decision, it should be underscored, was made to the exclusion of the opposition parliamentary parties in an election year when the constituency of the indigenous peoples is seen as crucial to the incumbent PPP/C’s administration….Given the historic isolation and marginalisation of the Amerindian community in Guyanese society, AFC supports such funding towards their empowerment and upliftment.”
Ramjattan said that his party is insisting that the disbursement of such funds must observe the highest standards of accountability and transparency.
He submitted that the track record of the current administration in the execution of such projects suggests that scrutiny and vigilance are indispensable.
“The AFC would like the Amerindian community to procure the maximum benefit and calls upon the UNDP as the agents for the disbursement to ensure that these objectives are realised.” He said that such targeted developmental focus aimed at the empowerment of the Amerindian communities is long overdue, “however, the AFC wishes to establish that for the nearly two decade of PPP economic stewardship, there has been a woeful failure to address the fundamental issues of Amerindian marginalisation and isolation.”
He said that his party posits that there is the urgent need of a similar targeted developmental focus on other depressed communities all across Guyana to address the endemic impoverishment of the Guyanese people.
“The AFC will be meeting with the resident representative of the UNDP to be updated on all aspects of the design and execution of these projects.”
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