Govt cannot access funds until after elections – Jagdeo

first_img$9.1B Norway paymentGovernment this week announced that the remaining payments under the Guyana Norway Agreement to the tune of $9.1 billion (US$50 million) has been released but Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has tempered expectations pointing out that Guyana will not have access to this money until after next year’s March 2 General and Regional Elections.Opposition LeaderBharrat JagdeoGuyana had signed a historic forest protection accord back in 2009 with Norway, which saw the former country receiving payments for sustaining its rainforests to absorb global carbon emissions. A total of US$250 million were to be paid to Guyana over a five-year period.Some US$200 million has also been paid over and while the final tranche has been released, Jagdeo, a former Head of State who led the project under the ‘Low Carbon Development Strategy’ (LCDS), told reporters at his weekly press conference on Friday that this was not new.He noted that this was first announced back in September on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York. At the time, Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams had met with Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment, Ola Elvestuen, who agreed to pay over the remaining pledge.It was noted then that the money would be disbursed to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), which is administered by the World Bank.As such, the Opposition Leader reminded on Friday that Guyana will not be able to access the payments. He referred to comments made by former Director of the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) Per Fredrik Pharo, who had told a local newspaper back in October that while the money is released to the GRIF, the country will only get access until after the upcoming elections and a government is in place.Pharo had noted that this condition was discussed between the two ministers at the NYC meeting.According to Jagdeo, the incumbent coalition administration took an old story and recycled it to show that there is a vote of confidence in it by the international community.“They’re selling this that ‘look, Norway released all of this money to us…and so Norway must have confidence in our government. That the PPP is saying that the international community has lost confidence in our government; therefore, this has to be a vote of confidence’,” Jagdeo pointed out… [But] that was not a vote of confidence. In fact, it was a vote of no confidence in this Government,” the Opposition Leader contended.In a statement on Tuesday, the Natural Resources Ministry credited the final payment to it maintaining Guyana’s forest cover at a high level and deforestation rates at a low level.However, Jagdeo was quick to remind that while the Government is glorifying how well they did, it was, in fact, a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) project.In fact, he pointed out that it was the coalition’s minority party, Alliance For Change (AFC) – of which Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman is the Chairman – that had written Norway to not sign the deal with Guyana and release any money.“Today, they are taking credit for it. Something they did not work for, something they didn’t put in a single day of work but they’re taking credit for. And they’re selling this now, look Norway released all of this money to us…,” the former Head of State contended.The AFC, a major partner in the Government coalition, did exactly write to the Norwegian Government.Back on December 24, 2014, AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan, now a Vice President and Public Security Minister in the coalition Government, had dispatched a letter to Norway expressing concerns that there might have been “fundamental breaches” of the Guyana-Norway Forest Protection Agreement.Of the US$200 million already paid to Guyana, US$80 million has been injected to fund a 100-megawatt solar energy project. That money was initially earmarked for the Amaila Falls Hydro (AFH) Project but back in June, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson revealed that Government got approval from Norway to divert the funds.The Amaila Falls Hydro Project was the flagship of the PPP’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. The project was expected to deliver electricity to Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, and its second-largest town, Linden, by an electric transmission line. It would have assisted GPL to get adequate electricity supply, thus, providing cheaper and more reliable power to citizens and businesses.However, Jagdeo had previously said that if the PPP returns to office at the upcoming elections then the resuscitation of the Amaila Falls Project would be among its top priorities for the energy sector.“Our plan is resuming discussions on Amaila. Immediately, starting to move forward on that project but recognising that that project will take some time into the future because it will take about four to five years to be completed,” he had noted.last_img

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