Guyana banks on Ramotar administration to draw down on Norway Funds
Spearheaded by Former Head-of-State Bharrat Jagdeo, and after much ranting and raving on his part, the Guyana Government is still to spend a dime of the money from the Kingdom of Norway under a Memorandum of Understand signed in 2008.
Two tranches from the US$250M promised to Guyana and payable over a five year period have been placed in a Bank Account but Guyana is still unable to spend the money until Norway is satisfied with the checks and balances are in place to ensure satisfactory transparency and accountability.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, following a post Cabinet Press Briefing, which unceremoniously ended by controversial. Office of the President personality Kwame Mc Coy, told this publication that there is a renewed sense of hope for an acceleration of the process under Donald Ramotar’s Presidency.
Dr Luncheon told this publication that Guyana’s position on the matter is that, “the money is ours.”
He said too that there is a commitment on the part of the administration to have a transparent and accountable mechanism put in place for accessing the funds.
Dr Luncheon lamented that the collaboration between the partners in ensuring that a proper mechanism is agreed to has not been properly defined to bring closure in order for Guyana to start spending the money.
The partners that Dr Luncheon spoke of are the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nation’s Development Fund.
“They are still outstanding issues, annoying, frustrating exercise and has caused us not to access money that is Guyana’s money.”
Dr Luncheon stressed that the administration is on record as saying that, the normal engagement between governments, donors and grant providers does not apply in this case as it relates to the expenditure of the money from the Kingdom of Norway.
He said that the regular rules that apply should not be allowed to determine the nature of the engagement when in this case the money belongs to Guyana.
Dr Luncheon said that as it relates to grants and loans, the Guyana Government accepts that there must be certain stipulations and criteria attached.
“But this is our money…we have earned this money and we have difficulties in continuing to see frustration along the way.”
The Head of the Presidential Secretariat did say that, “I think with the new administration, opportunities exist for us to explore in a bigger way a resolution of this conflict.”
Jagdeo up to shortly before he demitted office had stated that it has been a “nightmare” to unlock the funds from the World Bank. The “tools” being used by the banks do not allow for easy disbursement, he added.
According to Jagdeo, a committee has been set up to see how the World Bank is managing the so-called Guyana REDD Investment Fund.
The World Bank and the IDB are treating the money as grant financing, and “grants come in dribbles” and a lot of the money goes back to pay consultants, etc, President Jagdeo said.
“This is our money that we earned,” he declared. “It’s not the World Bank’s money; it is not the IDB’s money,” he added.
Jagdeo jumped ahead of suggestions that trying to change the way the World Bank has decided to manage the Norway funds is intended to compromise on accountability or environmental and social safeguards.
He said that the Guyana Government wants the highest standards of accountability.
But while that is so, he said that the money is still Guyana’s money at the end of the day.
“They (the World Bank and the IDB) want to treat it as though it is their money; this is our money.”