Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poverty Reduction paper stalled in National Assembly - Dr Luncheon

Kaieteur News news item, Friday 22 May 2009


Poverty Reduction paper stalled in National Assembly - Dr Luncheon

May 22, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News

‘There is growing sense of ‘frustration’ for those who have to implement agreements’

By Tusika Martin

The Poverty Reduction paper has already been approved by Cabinet but parliamentary consideration of the document is yet to be concluded, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, said yesterday.
Dr. Luncheon was responding to European Commission Ambassador to Guyana, Geert Heikens, who said on Wednesday that 12 million Euros is being withheld from the General Budget Support because of lack of approval by Cabinet of the Poverty Reduction paper.
Yesterday Dr. Luncheon lashed out that the European Commission, pointing out that there is a growing sense of the barriers, additional hoops and hurdles that have been brought into being.
This, he said, has ultimately led to a growing sense of ‘frustration’ by those who have to implement these agreements.

Dr. Luncheon added that the issues need to be looked at holistically. There is a continuum that arouses nations to higher levels of consternation, he added.
“Cabinet endorsed the document…the paper was sent to parliament, the forum at which the document is accepted…we took it to parliament to ensure that our love and appreciation of the paper is brought to the attention of parliamentarians and they would endorse it,” Dr. Luncheon said.
This anticipation has not yet been achieved, he said.
On Wednesday, Ambassador Heikens said that if criteria were not met under the European Development Fund, then finances would not be disbursed.
He noted that the General Budget support for Guyana was 40 million Euros, however, Cabinet has not disbursed 12 million Euros since the Commission is awaiting the approval for the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

The Ambassador claimed that an area of concern for the commission is the slow pace of meeting the criteria thus resulting in the delay in disbursement of funds.
Once such incident was highlighted earlier in the week, when Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, called for more flexibility from Brussels in the allocation of grants.
This call came in light of Guyana losing 6M Euros in budgetary support, during 2007/2008, because of late submission of the sugar action plan and an expenditure framework for sugar for the period 2009-2011.
In explaining how Guyana lost the money, Ambassador Heikens disclosed that Guyana was aware that both the sugar action plan and the expenditure framework for sugar for the period 2009-2011 were due by January 2008.

According to Heikens, he took the courtesy of extending that deadline until the end of March 2008, but the Guyana Sugar Corporation did not submit the plan.
It was not until July 2008, Ambassador Heikens said, that the plan was finally submitted, but by that time it was too late.
That money, he said, will not be recovered. No one provided the commission with an explanation of the reasons for the late submission, he said.

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