Bharrat Jagdeo walked away from United Nations Climate Change abatement talks in Cancun, Mexico in the past week without a red cent of the $250M Norway promised his administration for preserving its standing Amazonian rainforest. However, opposition pundits say he is being punished for taking the same culture of financial unaccountability he practices at home to the international stage where it simply won’t work.
The Guyanese head of state has in the past year traveled the globe holding up the agreement the English-speaking South American nation signed with Norway last year as a financial coup for developing nations, one that would have seen the CARICOM nation receiving the first $30M since February but so far Jagdeo appears to be returning home only with international humiliation in his wallet.
Norway had refused to hand authorities of a country that respected watchdog agencies such as Transparency International called one of the world’s most “corrupt” the money directly. Instead, Oslo dumped the money into a World Bank account, asked it to administer it and ensure strict criteria such as clear project proposals for funding are adhered to or money should not be disbursed.
But seeming to calculate that the Cancun talks would have presented him with an ideal forum to make his case and push the Norwegians into a corner, Jagdeo was left to lick his wounds and return to a country where practically everyone read through all the political innuendo and clear signs that the money is not forthcoming anytime soon.
“This is so because he has taken the same culture of unaccountability that he and his government practice at home to the international stage. They want the money without proper project profiles, indicating when a project starts, ends, the cost, guarantees and other details. What they really want is a slush fund that Norway and the World Bank would not give,” said Opposition Legislator and Political Scientist Aubrey Norton.
Jagdeo called the bank’s refusal so far “humiliating.” Sharing a forum with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, Jagdeo could not hold back on his level of frustration with Norway and the bank, saying that “what I have a problem with is when I deliver the results I can’t get the money. Once the results are delivered, the money should be delivered so we can deliver political will. We have not seen a single cent expended as yet on the projects that are so vital to transformation. It’s a nightmare.”
Remaining calm but un-flinched, Stoltenberg countered by saying that his electorate wants to ensure that whatever money comes from taxpayers is well spent overseas. “Results-based finance is the best way to mobilize political will and it is hard to win elections on a message of high taxation.”
Several Caribbean leaders attended the failed talks but those who went such as Grenada’s Tillman Thomas reminded the summit that any increase in global temperatures beyond 1.5 centigrade will devastate the tourism dependent region of mostly small island states.