“They don’t want to enter into the political fray and take us on. So, they hide behind some of these NGOs” – VP Jagdeo

─ Says PNC/APNU working through ‘surrogate agencies’ to block Amerindian development

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has called out the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) as just another surrogate agency through which the APNU is working to block development in the Amerindian communities, by attempting to derail the forest carbon payments allocated to these communities.

Responding to a question posed by the media on Thursday during his press conference hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre [ACCC], the vice president exposed the opposition tactic of hiding behind Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs), that are historically hostile towards the PPP/C.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo at Thursday’s press conference

“So, they work through these surrogate agencies. They hate the PPP. They can’t come out on their own, they don’t want to enter into the political fray and take us on. So, they hide behind some of these NGOs. So, APA has done that, you know the history… They now are trying to block money for the Amerindian Communities, in the name of the Amerindians without consulting with any village,” the VP told reporters.

“Jean La Rose was the deputy leader of the APNU’s list in 2015. So, they are clearly aligned…The head of the APA said that the PPP terminated the land titling unit, when we established the land titling unit, we put $10 million U.S. from the LCDS money to accelerate land titling. APNU closed it off and she gave an interview in the Stabroek News and then said that the PPP had shut it down and then it was a big furore back and forth between, I think, the Stabroek News and her about that. She said she was misquoted, she wasn’t misquoted. She actually repeated it several times. So, we’ve established that already,” he added.

The APA had issued a statement accusing the government of violating the tenets of free, prior and informed consent [FPIC] when engaging Amerindian communities, citing the consultation process for the sale of the carbon credits.

However, it was following consultations between the government and stakeholders that it was agreed that 15 per cent of all proceeds from any sale of Guyana’s carbon credits will go to Amerindian communities.  It was also decided that population size is key in the determination of the disbursement process.

In this regard, a total of $4.6 billion (US$22 million), representing 15 per cent of Hess’ first payment for Guyana’s carbon credits, was disbursed to the various communities. The funds have been disbursed into separate bank accounts to ensure transparency and accountability, with each community receiving up to $35 million and no less than $10 million.

“They’ve now written to ART [Architecture for REDD+ Transactions] and ART has a grievance process through which you can trigger, and that’s what they did. So that’s how they’re trying to block it, I think with approval from APNU. APNU doesn’t like this too. You saw the negatives coming out.

“So, this is where they’re trying, but they can’t block this year’s allocation, they’re trying to block next year’s allocation, but we’re dealing with that, too. We are pointing out to the people who they really are,” Dr Jagdeo related.

Further, asked about the submission of village plans, the vice president said if the villages require assistance, they have to submit a request to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs which has a mechanism in place to provide the necessary support.

 “The money is already sitting in their accounts. So, it depends on the pace at which they develop it. But they have to go through a particular process in developing these plans. They have to take it to each village and they have to have to vote on the plan and that’s how you get the village buying into the development plans.

“So, it’s not just the Toshao and two councillors sitting down and coming up with something. They have to go to a village council and similarly, there is a mechanism to ensure that the resources are accountably spent,” the VP clarified.