The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is not only labeling the country’s Minister of Natural Resources
a liar, but is insisting that he must apologize for making the statements he made as it relates to the PPP/C government’s disposal of all of Guyana’s productive forest.
This call is being made despite the damning revelations that followed Minister Raphael Trotman’s pronouncement.
In a statement issued yesterday, the PPP said that Minister Trotman and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo both lied about the PPP/C government’s 100% giveaway of Guyana’s productive forest and “they must apologize to the people of Guyana.”
During his Budget speech, Minister Trotman had told the National Assembly, “We were met with an alarming situation where we discovered that 100% or all of our productive forest was allocated by the past Government.” Trotman said that there “is nothing left.”
The following day, Prime Minister Nagamootoo took evidence to the House that supported what was initially said by Trotman. Further, the media had released information explaining in detail what the PPP did with Guyana’s forest to the extent where it gave out forest lands that were not to be given out.
But the PPP holds out that it is all a lie. The party claims that the “lie” undermines the Guyana-Norway partnership and Guyana’s international reputation.
The Party says that in the absence of an apology and a full retraction, it will be seeking an independent investigation into the claims made by Minister Trotman.
The Party said, “Pending the outcomes of this investigation, the PPP will have no choice but to support
Norway in suspending the Guyana-Norway partnership in order to preserve its integrity in the long-term interests of Guyanese citizens”.
The PPP claimed that it has written to the Government of the Kingdom of Norway expressing its concern at the APNU+AFC Government’s “attacks on the integrity of the Guyana-Norway partnership on climate change and forests…In our letter to the Government of Norway, the PPP expressed our concerns that the Norwegian Government’s pause on disbursing money to Guyana – which started just after the APNU+AFC Government took office, despite the fact that a payment of US$40 million remains pending – has not been lifted. Neither has a new agreement been reached, despite the fact that the last payment under the partnership was to be paid for performance up to the end of 2014.”
PPP thinks that the new government is seeking to tarnish its “excellent track record and stewardship on forest conservation, sustainable forest management and climate change.”
According to the Party, the statements also deliberately question the integrity of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and the Guyana-Norway partnership for which forest conservation is a key pillar and the Amaila Falls Hydropower project is a flagship project.
The PPP wants Minister Trotman to state whether he consulted with any professional staff within his Ministry before making the announcement.
“We are confident that Minister Trotman did not consult with any professionals or anybody else who could advise him on the facts concerning the allocation of Guyana’s forests. Instead, he chose to degrade the National Assembly, of which he was once Speaker, by making wild assertions to dishonestly gain political advantage.”
The PPP added, “Had Minister Trotman consulted with his Ministry’s professional staff, he would know that the facts are straight-forward. As shown in publicly available and internationally verified reports, Guyana’s forests cover an area of 18,483,000 hectares. The breakdown of this area is summarized on Page 5 of the latest Monitoring, Report and Verification (MRV) report which was independently verified by an agency engaged by the Norwegian Government.”
The PPP said that about seven million hectares have been allocated for concessions, less than 38% of Guyana’s forest or about 55% of the State Forest Estate.
“Of the seven million hectares, about five million hectares are allocated through large concessions. Of the five million hectares, about 2.8 million hectares of large concessions were allocated by PPP/C Governments between 1992 and 2015, and about half of the large concessions were issued by the PNC Government before 1992, including the current largest concession for Barama at 1.7 million hectares.”
According to the party, the PPP/C Government allocated approximately 15% of Guyana’s forest to large concessions and close to half the State Forest Estate remains unallocated.
Furthermore, the PPP said that forest management standards within the allocated concessions are among the highest in the world. While deforestation and degradation, as well as governance standards, have been independently verified and assessed since the commencement of the Guyana-Norway partnership on forests in 2009. The most recent Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) report dated October 2015 shows that Guyana’s forest cover has a deforestation rate of 0.062%, one of the lowest rates in the world.
The Party said, “Minister Trotman should stop lying about Guyana’s forest management standards. As Minister, he should be sticking up for Guyana internationally and pointing out where Guyana’s standards and performance are world-class. He should also be focusing on the remaining challenges for the sector, and representing its stakeholders in advancing their needs, not destroying progress already made.
The PPP continues to believe that the Guyana-Norway partnership is good for Guyana and for the world and therefore, the Government must show it is serious about adhering to the standards the agreement requires. That is the only way that Norway can lift its pause on the disbursement of money and once again have a partner with whom it can do business. That will not happen if Ministers continue to lie about key elements of the agreement.” (Abena Rockcliffe)
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