THE Guyana Government has been vindicated in pursuing the thrust towards a low carbon economy with the firm pledge of financial support from Norway, officials said yesterday.
Norway has pledged to provide Guyana with US$250M until 2015 to support the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and the two countries Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) covering the arrangement.
A Guyana Government official yesterday noted that it was to the administration’s credit that the pledges from Norway have materialised in view of the stand adopted against the LCDS by the main Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and some of its overseas-based backers.
President Bharrat Jagdeo Tuesday recalled that the PNCR walked out of a debate on the LCDS in the National Assembly in July.
The PNCR has been lukewarm on the LCDS and the push for a low carbon economy but Mr. Jagdeo said he is willing and ready to recommit to a debate if the PNCR is as willing.
At a press conference at the Office of the President, he said, “I wanted a robust debate in Parliament to complement the broad-based process we had across the country”.
Despite what the President said was an unprecedented three-month process of national consultation on the draft LCDS with stakeholders and interest groups around the country, the PNCR recently claimed that the methodology of the government has been to provide the public with “very vague, fuzzy and often convoluted notification of the matter for consultation.”
It charged that this was done for the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the LCDS.
“A poll of the public would reveal that, after several years of so-called consultation on the PRSP, most members of the public still do not know what the acronym means. The same applies to now in vogue Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). What does it mean?”, it argued.
But the Norwegians and agencies like the World Bank have endorsed the consultations and the LCDS with Norway and Guyana cementing their partnership on global climate change with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding this week.
One government official recalled that a United States-based PNCR backer, Clarence Ellis, even wrote Ambassador Hans Brattskar, Director of Norway's Climate and Forest Initiative, expressing deep reservations about the Guyana-Norway cooperation.
Ellis, a former Bank of Guyana Governor, charged that President Jagdeo was avoiding the “development of the social and physical building blocks that will make a lasting contribution to the development of the people of Guyana and is, in dictatorial fashion, attempting to replace those options with esoteric global deals that will benefit a small clique of renegades who will appropriate the bulk of whatever finance flows from rainforest deals such as the President is negotiating with you.”
“There is a great danger in concluding a rainforest deal without involvement of the people of Guyana who have absolutely no idea of the decisions being made by President Jagdeo with respect to the patrimony of the country. These negotiations that are proceeding with you have not been approved by the people's representatives. The likelihood of an open revolt against these deals should not be discounted”, Ellis claimed.
The government official said the fact that Norway has proceeded to the stage of concluding a Memorandum of Understanding with Guyana on providing such huge sums to back the LCDS, shows that the reservations and criticisms of the strategy and consultations process have little merit.
The LCDS is being finalised and will be outlined in a few weeks, President Jagdeo said.
He said he has grown accustomed to the opposition’s “childish antics” which he believes do not augur well for the country’s interest.
“If there is a conflict between something that the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) wants and our national sovereignty is questioned, my loyalty would be to the nation and similarly I say this for all politicians ‘we are Guyanese before we belong to any party.’ Unfortunately this message doesn’t seem to resonate with many from the opposition,” he Jagdeo said.
He noted that the opposition and others tried “to bring down the strategy.”
“They wrote letters abroad criticising it, trying to keep money away from this country. For you to want power you have to demonstrate that you have the ability to manage things… they (PNCR) have not demonstrated that so far,” he charged.
Confident that the concept is strong and can be defended at any given time, the President said he is ready to recommit the issue to parliament for a debate provided that the opposition party is up for the challenge.
“This is a real watershed moment for our country. At no time in the past in our entire history has so much money been pledged to our country in a single initiative. No time!” he stressed.