President slams IDB, World Bank for pussyfooting with Norway funds
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo has accused the partner financial institutions to the Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) of behaving as though the money Guyana earned through the Norway MOU is a grant that they’re tasked with disbursing through their usual mechanisms.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday at the Office of the President, the President lamented that the Government will have to go ahead with the financing of the solar panels for Amerindian and riverine communities from the national coffers with the hope that the financing for it would be released retroactively.
He said that Government is still awaiting the release of the Norway funds to facilitate implementation of priority projects under the Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
“We have US$70M deposited in Guyana’s account. It is this nightmare to unlock it, but I can’t wait forever on these matters,” President Jagdeo said.
He said the World Bank and the IDB – the partner agencies – are treating the money Guyana has earned as if it is a grant, which he explained is usually disbursed in dribbles, with most of it going back to the consultants.
The procurement process, according to President Jagdeo, followed the criteria of international regulations, including an international public tender, evaluation and selection of bidders.
The President expressed the hope that the process can move forward with retroactive financing as an offset, and disclosed that a Danish contractor has won the bid for the project to the tune of US$2.5 million.
He said that although the hinterland communities are the principal targets, non-Amerindian riverine communities also stand to benefit.
“When I was in places like Bartica, I saw some communities that are not necessarily Amerindian that are not connected to the grid,” President Jagdeo said.
Under the Hinterland Electrification Programme, Cabinet had approved the procurement of up to 11,000 65W solar home systems. Further, the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs recently distributed 574 solar panels to 16 Amerindian communities in Regions One, Two and Nine through the Office of the Prime Minister under the Unserved Areas Electrification Programme.
The Amerindian Affairs Ministry was tasked over the last year with distributing 1,000 (15-watt) solar panels to 23 communities, and these 16 areas are the first beneficiaries.
Some of the communities that benefited are: Four Miles and Hotoquai, Region One (Barima/Waini); Mashabo, Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam); and Surama, Rupertee and Katoka, Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo).
President Jagdeo had given the assurance that priority projects under the revolutionary LCDS would have translated into reality this year when development partner, Norway announced its readiness to release the second tranche of forest protection funds in March this year.
Among those priority projects are the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP); improvements in the country’s digital infrastructure; Amerindian community development; and the construction of a world- class Centre for Biodiversity at the University of Guyana.