Opposition demands higher carbon credit payout to Amerindians

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2023, 16:42 by Denis Chabrol

The opposition People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), and the Alliance For Change (AFC) have issued separate calls for the carbon credit payout to Amerindian villages to be increased from 15 percent to between 25 percent and 85 percent.

Questions are lingering about how exactly government apparently arrived unilaterally at 15 percent. For its part, AFC Vice Chair Deonarine ‘Ricky’ Ramsaroop says when he conducted consultations on this issue with many stakeholders from Amerindian communities they suggested 25% and the right for them to determine how best to spend these funds within their communities. He further told Demerara Waves Online News that his party arrived at that amount because Amerindian lands are estimated to be 10 percent of forested lands.

The latest call was issued by the AFC at a news conference held Friday, That party noted that only direct beneficiaries from the carbon credits are Amerindians who will benefit  financially. “This is the arbitrary sum the Government has come up with. There was no consultation or prior discussion in Parliament as to why this amount,” the AFC said.

Since the sale of carbon credits to Hess Corporation for US$750 million, Guyana has received the first payment of US$75 million of which 15 percent (GY$4.7 billion) would go to 241 Amerindian communities.

PNCR General Secretary Dawn Hastings-Williams told a recent APNU public meeting that the Indigenous Amerindians deserved 25 percent. “I’m a little piece of Indigenous woman. You can take me out the forest but you cannot take the forest out of me so I think, myself and all  my brothers and Guyanese, we deserve better my comrades. If you call Indigenous the First People, then you should give them 85 percent of the carbon credits,” she told a meeting in North Ruimveldt,” she said.

The AFC said based on the international assessment means that the forest on Amerindian titled and untitled lands, those
areas under the Fourth Parallel, those areas given to loggers and private titled and leased lands were also assessed.  That political party, which recently exited the electoral alliance with APNU, said the forestry sector was not earmarked to draw down cash from the carbon credit sale. The AFC finds it unfair that forestry sector operators will receive nothing from the carbon credits monies even though their forest were assessed and was used to get the value. Despite private logging companies expending hundreds of millions to ensure Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) is achieved; and, spending hundreds of millions to maintain internal roads that other sectors such as Gold miners and even the Government use, surely this category of stakeholder ought to be beneficiaries too,” the AFC added.

AFC Chairman Catherine Hughes said the opposition was discussing the possibility of tabling a motion in the National Assembly to demand increased carbon credit payments.