World Bank, IDB pledge to work quickly to fund Amerindian projects
REPRESENTATIVES of the major international financial institutions here have pledged their readiness to work with the Government of Guyana and the indigenous peoples to implement projects that have been proposed for funding from the Norway funds, and it is hoped that disbursement of monies for individual projects can begin by first quarter of 2011. This came out of yesterday’s discussions at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) meeting ongoing at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal. The meeting wraps up today.
Speaking at the event, Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Marco Nicola, said: “We have already stressed to the President and to the Government and I would like to reiterate to you our willingness and drive to support you and the Government in implementing this project.”
He said that for those unfamiliar with how the IDB operates, the institution does not implement projects. “We will work with the Government and the Toshaos...we will supervise to make sure that the project is well designed, that the project is viable, that the money is well-spent and that you get result for the money. We will work closely with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and other entities that would be supporting the communities in the facilitation of these projects. I already told the President and the Government that we are a bureaucracy [and] we have already started certain machinery in Washington to get the money into our account so that we are able to disburse it to the Government because it will come from the World Bank. We will rush as much as possible to get the money to you as early as possible. As I said, Mr. President, it is important that you understand our limitation, but please be assured that we will make every effort to do this, because this is money that is going directly to the community for their benefit so it is very important money to be implemented and implemented well,” Nicola said.
But the President took up Nicola on his use of the words “viable and well designed.” President Jagdeo said: “We are not second guessing the communities here because I don’t want when the communities, through a consultative process, come up with a project that any foreign group says this project can’t be financed. That is their right. They will select the projects.”
Nicola clarified the statement, saying that he meant that the overall project must be a viable one, not the individual projects from the communities. He said that from working with the Social Impact Amelioration Programme (SIMAP) the IDB learned valuable lessons about community-based projects. “Sometimes we impose projects and the projects are not used. The projects that were the most successful were the ones that come from the communities,” Nicola said.
“We appreciate the Bank moving swiftly and at some stage we may have the use of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) too, and I know they stand ready to assist,” the President said.
Turning to the World Bank representative, President Jagdeo quipped: “Giorgio, would you like to say something along the same lines to reiterate how quickly the money...our money...will be coming to our people?”
In response, Giorgio Valentini said that in terms of the World Bank’s assistance to the GRIF, the Bank has the money in Washington DC, but the transfer of money from that account to the IDB or the UN would be very quick, “because at this point the World Bank is not making any decisions.”
He said that the Steering Committee of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is the one that will evaluate the project and then will request the funds. “The Trustee, the World Bank, will have no say in the project. So Mr. President, we are not going to have the money in our account...our main interest is to give the money as soon as possible. The sooner the better, so we have no interest in keeping the money in Washington. The money, as the President said, is yours so you should be having that as soon as possible,” Valentini said.
Also speaking at the invitation of the President, UNDP Resident Representative Kiari Liman-Tinguiri said that the UNDP stands ready to assist with the projects. He said his institution has experience in working on projects in the Amerindian communities. He said the UNDP will serve to provide oversight to ensure that the projects are done in an accountable manner.
The President at this point said: “We have to move swiftly, starting next week, to put in place a process that will result in these projects moving forward. We’ll work with Yvonne and the NTC and the institutions to prepare these starting next week. In the meantime, I would like the Toshaos to finalise what they want in the villages and get back to us as soon as possible.” He said when this is done, there will be a final list of projects submitted for which monies will be allocated.
He said all of the projects will have to be written up in the form of a contract between the village and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. Mr. Jagdeo, on the advice of one of the Toshaos, said that it is a good idea to include a small sum in each project for administrative costs, now that the villages have to perform additional duties to account for the monies disbursed.
On this note, the President said that the World Bank is deducting nearly US$1 million for being the intermediary of the funds from Norway. Valentini said that he was not sure whether the fee is being deducted from the Trust Fund or some an external source, but he confirmed that the World Bank would charge a fee for being the trustee of the funds.