Some toshaos are not happy with aspects of a resolution calling on the governments of Norway and Guyana to intervene to expedite the release of funds from the two countries forests’ partnership and were upset further by an attempt to openly list the names of those who did not sign on.
Sources say that proceedings at the National Toshaos Conference yesterday afternoon at the Liliendaal Convention Centre took an interesting turn when Head of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Yvonne Pearson began to list the names of leaders who had not signed on to the resolution. When she had read the first name and some toshaos realized what was happening, one immediately stood up and objected to what she was doing. This should not happen in a democracy, the toshao argued, according to leaders present at the meeting. Pearson did not list the other names.
Some toshaos were not happy at the manner in which the resolution was presented. Stabroek News was told that the document was read to the conference in the morning session on Tuesday and they were asked to support it. They were told, a toshao said, that Pearson had drafted the document and it was discussed at the NTC Executive meeting on Monday. There was no prior discussion among all the leaders, this newspaper was told.
After some toshaos declined to ink their names after objecting to some aspects of the resolution, there was a little discussion, the toshao said. He said that officials were blaming certain non-governmental organizations and opposition political parties for the hold up of the money and one toshao suggested that these organizations should be allowed to come and explain their position but Pearson responded that this was not the role of the conference. One toshao said that he did not sign the document because “I did not see that (aspects of the document) to be true.”
The resolution entitled ‘Resolution on the fast-tracking of the release of LCDS Funds,’ affirmed that villages’ “priority projects” which form part of their Community Development Plans are held in abeyance as disbursement of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Funds (GRIF) is yet to become available. The GRIF is the financial mechanism for the ongoing cooperation on climate change between Guyana and Norway, in which Oslo will pay up to US$250 million for Guyana’s performance on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and for progress made against governance-related indicators. Guyana will invest the payments it receives, and any income earned on them, in its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). Guyana has not received any money as yet. Norway has released US$68M into the GRIF.
The resolution calls on the Partner Institutions – through which funds from the GRIF will be channelled – “to recognize the participatory engagements of our people at the village level in stating our priorities and development needs, and request of you to expedite the institutional requirement for the release of the funds for the projects. Our frustration and disappointments in the lengthy delay in the release of the GRIF are hindering further development of our villages,” the resolution states.
“We call upon the Government of the Kingdom of Norway and the Government of Guyana to intervene so that the release of the funds is expedited,” the resolution further states.
The private media have been shut out from the deliberations of the conference although press releases are being issued on a regular basis by the Government Information Agency. Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud said that the newspaper would not be using any of the GINA releases from this conference as the exclusion of the private media is discriminatory and the releases are clearly being shaped to solely accommodate the government’s wishes.
He added that the insulating of the conference from the private media is an insult to all of those in attendance and is completely at odds with the intent of the recently presented Access to Information legislation.
Further, he said that any discussion at the conference as it relates to the Norwegian aid should take place in the open as transparency is supposed to underpin the forestry agreement with Oslo.