Jun 29, 2016 News
A recent visit by Government officials to Norway has netted positive results for the country.
Updating Kaieteur News this week, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, disclosed that Norway has agreed not take back US$80M that had been held in an escrow account at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) – that money had been set aside as Guyana’s equity in the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project.
The money was part of the US$250M deal that Norway agreed to grant Guyana in 2009 in exchange for this country to limit deforestation and forest degradation. However, the hydro electric project fell through in mid-2013 after the then Opposition voted against key legislation that would have allowed IDB to also invest.
The former Opposition, which now forms the Coalition Government, had insisted that it could not accept the financial structure of the 165- megawatt project which would have been by far the largest ever infrastructural project for this country.
The US$80M had been placed in an escrow account of the IDB pending the developments of the Amaila Falls project.
Norway had agreed last year to fund a review by an independent consultant.
Among other things, the Norwegian consultant will help determine if the energy project makes financial sense or whether it would not be better for the US$80M to be sunk into several, smaller hydro sites.
According to Minister Trotman yesterday, during his trip earlier this month to Norway for the Oslo REDD Exchange meeting, it was agreed that the review currently being undertaken by Norway would be completed by September 1, 2016,
“I can tell you that officials from Guyana and Norway will meet again at the end of the review to discuss and agree on the way forward,” Trotman disclosed.
Significantly, and in favour of Guyana, Norway has agreed not to take back the US$80M held in escrow. Guyana will have a chance to find a renewable energy project to sink the money into.
Meanwhile, there have been some positive developments also for the financially troubled Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (IIC).
Minister Trotman said that during the meeting, the issue of Iwokrama was raised, with Norway indicating that it will not object to this country using monies from Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) to support the Centre. GRIF is the fund which is used by Norway to channel the monies towards projects that Guyana has to present.
Guyana will have to submit a proposal now to Norway on the funding for Iwokrama.
Iwokrama was established in 1996 under a joint mandate from the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat to manage the Iwokrama forest, a unique reserve of 371,000 hectares of rainforest.
Accompanying Minister Trotman on the trip were Jocelyn Dow, Chairperson of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC); Pradeepa Bholanath – GFC; and Teresa Gaime – Technical Officer – Ministry of Natural Resources.
While in Norway, the delegation met with Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate; Statkraft, considered the largest renewable energy Supplier in Europe; and NORAD’s Oil for Development Program.
According to the Minister, there have been commitments for collaborations, once Guyana makes a formal request.
The delegation also visited two parks and nature reserves and the Rånåsfosspower station, which has a hydro power plant.
VISIT TO GUYANA
“We also made an appearance before the Foreign Affairs and Defence and the Energy and Environment Committees of the Parliament, known as ‘the Storting’,” Trotman disclosed.
During that Parliamentary session, Guyana was asked to clarify the Government’s position on new and renewable energy as against its stated opposition to the Amaila Falls Hydro Project as it was previously configured.
“We also held a meeting with Eric Solheim, Executive Directorate designate of the United Nations Environment Programme. Mr. Solheim offered his support to advance Guyana’s environmental programme.”
A meeting was held with the Minister of Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen, and staffers of various Ministries and departments and a decision was taken to deepen the partnership. The Minister was invited to visit Guyana and he has agreed in principle.”
A number of Norway delegations have been visiting Guyana.
Guyana is looking for another deal with Norway with the other one expiring last year.
Norway has extended it as Guyana still has a number of targets to meet.
Of the US$250M, Norway has so far disbursed about US$150M, rewarding Guyana’s achieved results. Of this, US$70M has been transferred to Guyana REDD+ investment fund – GRIF (administered by the World Bank), and as indicated, US$80M has been set aside in an account with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to cover Guyana’s equity share in the Amaila Falls project.
All projects are implemented by the World Bank, the IDB or the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and thus adhere to their strict rules and safeguards, Norway said.
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