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Guyana calls EU’s reason for aid sanction “misinformation”

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni SIngh

The Guyana government Friday rejected claims by the European Union (EU) that it has refused to disburse more than €25 million in budgetary support because the country does not have enough budgetary oversight and has not met the eligibility criteria.

In an apparent effort to buttress its case, government released correspondence dated September 8, 2014 from the Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union in Guyana, Ewout Sandker to Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh informing him that the local mission has recommended to its headquarters in Brussels that €25,858,025 be disbursed.

When contacted by Caribbean News Desk/Demerara Waves Friday night, Dr Singh declined to discuss whether the EU Mission in Guyana had merely recommended that the payment be made and that the final decision rests with the EU’s Budget Support Committee that had been due to meet on September 17,2014.

Expressing “concern” about a press release issued by the EU Delegation in Guyana that a decision has been made to “temporarily put on hold” certain budget support grants “until all eligibility criteria, inter alia budget oversight, are satisfactorily addressed”.

The Guyana government called on the EU Mission in Guyana to “correct the misinformation contained in the press release it issued earlier today, and also explain to the people of Guyana what exactly accounts for the failure to disburse the sums since September 8, 2014, especially bearing in mind that Parliament was not prorogued until November 10, 2014.”

Guyana’s Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon last week sought to link the withholding of the budgetary grant support to comments made by outgoing British High Commissioner, Andrew Ayre that his country would not favour disbursements of taxpayers’ monies to countries where there is no parliamentary oversight. Ayre had questioned the need for the ongoing suspension of the Parliament since November 10, 2014 with no apparent justifiable reason especially since the opposition had refused to talk with government on resolving several political issues.

The EU said that it has two on-going budget support programmes in Guyana, one for the sugar sector (EURO 28.9 million) and one for sea defences (EURO 14.8 million). The EU said that it has a long standing commitment to support development and poverty reduction in Guyana. The mission noted that in 2014, EURO 34 million was allocated to Guyana under the 11th European Development Fund. EU aid is channelled through different modalities. Budget support is one of them.

Below is the full text of an e-mail from the EU official in Guyana to Guyana’s Finance Minister.

From: SANDKER Ewout (EEAS-GEORGETOWN) 

Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Subject: Budget support payments

To: Ashni Singh 

Cc: “KOPECKY Robert (EEAS-GEORGETOWN)”, “MADL Benedikt (EEAS-GEORGETOWN)”, Tarachand Balgobin, Sonya Roopnauth 

Dear Minister,

This is to inform you that the Delegation has submitted a positive disbursement advice to its Headquarters with regard to the budget support tranches listed below. They will all be discussed for decision by our Budget Support Steering Committee on 17 September 2014.

If I am not mistaken it is the first time that the budget support disbursement requests for Guyana have been submitted this early in the second semester, maximizing the chances for payments within the budgetary year (as they are always subject to availability of payment credits). I believe this is illustrative for the good cooperation between your office, the line Ministries involved and the Delegation, for which I would like to express my appreciation.

I take the opportunity to thank you for providing us with detailed information on the non-legislative measures relating to CFATF recommendations, which I am sure our colleagues in Headquarters will find very useful and informative. As soon as we have been debriefed by our Headquarters we will let you know about the result of the Steering Committee.

Kind regards,
Ewout Sandker

10th EDF Sea Defences:

•         Fixed tranche 2013: 2.8 Mio € – the Delegation recommended full payment based on fulfillment of general conditions

•         Variable tranche 2014: 3.5 Mio € – the Delegation recommended payment of 2.905 based on fulfillment general criteria and of specific criteria 1 and 2 (except for sub-indicator on the condition survey not reaching the required length surveyed).

Sugar AAP 2012:

•         Variable tranche: 2. 784 Mio € – recommended for full payment based on fulfillment of general conditions and indicators 3 and 8

Sugar AAP 2013:

•         Fixed tranche 6.9 Mio € – – the Delegation recommended full payment based on fulfillment of general conditions

•         Variable tranche 12. 075 Mio – the Delegation recommended payment of 10,469,025 based on fulfillment of the general conditions and indicators 1,3,4,6,8. Indicator 5a was not considered fully met as the foreseen investment of the whinch system at Skeldon was not done during the foreseen time.   

Total:

The Delegation recommended payment of 25,858,025 EUR.