The GC’s criticisms of named Amerindian MPs are misdirected and technically incorrect

Dear Editor,

The government-owned Guyana Chronicle carried one article and one letter on April 30, 2012 criticising Amerindian members of the National Assembly who voted to reduce those components of the appropriations bill which linked to former President Jagdeo’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).  The Chronicle’s items referred in particular to Sidney Allicock of Surama Village, also an APNU Member of Parliament.  Both Khemraj Ramjattan of the AFC and independent accountant Chris Ram pointed out the error of the Minister of Finance in the inclusion of LCDS projects into the main appropriations bill instead of placing them as conditional appropriations in accordance with Article 21 in the Financial Management and

Accountability Act (‘The $18.3B which was cut from the LCDS needed to be covered by a conditional appropriation,’ Stabroek News, April 30).  It was thus entirely correct for members of the National Assembly to vote down the error of the Minister of Finance and to call for use of the proper procedure.

The Guyana Chronicle also failed to notice that the Joint Concept Note (JCN) attached to the Norway-Guyana MoU and revised in March 2011 is explicit concerning the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) that “Transfer of funds takes place on approval by the GRIF Steering Committee, which consists of Guyana and Norway, with observers from Partner Entities [UNDP and the Inter-American Development Bank], and Guyanese and Norwegian civil society” (section 4, page 13, in the revised JCN). This Steering Committee cannot approve money transfers from the GRIF until the Government of Guyana presents proposals of acceptable quality which derive from the sketchy LCDS project outlines and which comply with the Partner Entities’ “own globally accepted operational procedures and safeguards” (also on page 13 of the JCN).  Both Partner Entities have accepted the Combined Approach to environmental and social safeguards in the context of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and UN-REDD.  In his statement about the GRIF to the National Assembly on July 15, 2010, the Minister of Finance said “Individual Government agencies are now moving to translate these outlines into detailed project plans.”  That was 21 months ago.

As the Government of Guyana, including the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the President’s Office of Climate Change, have produced only a few concept notes and proposals since then, and those mostly of abysmal quality and relevance, only one project has so far been funded and that for the benefit of the Guyana Forestry Commission (US$ 3.6 million) and the Office of the President (US$ 3.3 million).  This project was approved by the GRIF Steering Committee on  November 7, 2011.

Two concept notes have been submitted to the GRIF in relation to Amerindian development.  Land titling and demarcation was submitted by UNDP and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and UNDP in January 2011.  The concept note for the Amerindian Development Fund was prepared by the Office of the President and/or the Meridian Institute, apparently not by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, recently in March 2012.

The criticisms in the Guyana Chronicle of the named Amerindian MPs are misdirected and technically incorrect.  Can we expect a retraction by the Guyana Chronicle?

Yours faithfully,
Janette Bulkan

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