I am responding to a “source” in the Canadian High Commission that says there will be no aid cuts to Guyana. This is in response to my column of Thursday, Feb 26, 09 in KN. As it stands the Canadian High Commissioner, the Canadian High Commis-sion and CIDA’s office in Georgetown have not officially responded to three pieces of information that Canadian aid to Guyana will be withdrawn. One is my column. The other is a news item by the Stabroek News of February 26 captioned, ‘Guyana off Canada’s bilateral aid radar screen,’ which cites a statement issued by CIDA as saying that Guyana had been removed from the list of countries to receive bilateral assistance. The third is another news item, almost a page, in the Feb 27 edition of the Stabroek News (‘President to check report…’).
We are still to have to hear from these three Canadian avenues. We have only a source. I find it strange that the source cannot say who s/he is and is supposed to be speaking on a matter of utmost importance to this country. Let me outline the dimensions of the story. I got an e-mail from a friend about the reduction in aid carried by the Toronto Sun, which has the largest daily circulation in Canada. It used the word “drop” in reference to Guyana. Then I did some more checking. Here is the outline. Guyana has been taken off the list of aid recipients that have the status of developing partners. A “source” in the Canadian High Commission denies this. I then went and dug further.
Guyana has been taken off the list. There is no question about it. The list now has the Caribbean instead of Guyana. We don’t know as yet if Guyana is included in the new category of Caribbean or has been left out. Only a really limited person would say that Guyana’s quota will not be diminished if Guyana now has to share that quota with 13 other Caribbean countries, especially in the light of decreased aid by the Canadians.
Why the reduction to Guyana when this country is poorer than the rest of the Caribbean? It has to do with governance. The Canadians are irritated that the Jagdeo presidency is not moving in the direction of re-shaping governance. The last straw was the Local Government Task Force. The USAID agreed to fund the entire process but a certain official objected to USAID on the basis that the assistance would have all kinds of conditions. CIDA stepped in and agreed to fill the void. The Canadians were told that their generosity is not needed at this time because the British government had already earmarked money for the reform of local government. This was not so, and more than two years have passed and there is still no positive movement on the reorganization of local government
Can we kindly get a definitive statement from the Canadian High Commission or CIDA that the reduction of aid to Guyana from 2009 onwards is a fiction. That is all I need to know before I apologize.