Gov’t looking at Guyana/Norway agreement to solve Forestry Commission’s financial woes
The Government is examining ways to utilise funds from the Guyana/Norway agreement to assist the cash-strapped Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) to offset its expenses.
At a post-cabinet media briefing on Wednesday, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon noted that the Commission has been doing a lot of work to preserve the forest and keep up with Guyana’s commitment to Norway under the Guyana REDD+ (Reducing Emissions Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Investment Fund (GRIF).
“Some of the arrangements we are looking at is to see whether in fact under the agreement with the Kingdom of Norway that the Forestry Commission can be paid for that service which they provide,” Harmon said.
He noted that the work the GFC is doing is important to ensuring that Guyana’s deforestation levels remain at low levels.
Cabinet was on Tuesday briefed by Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman about cash flow issues being experienced by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC).
The Minister briefed Cabinet as a result of a meeting on Monday with the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), the sole bargaining agent of the workers at the GFC.
“The Minister said that there was an issue in respect to the availability of cash and that is what the union raised, that payment. The Minister did in fact speak to some of the issues which affected the financial liquidity of the Forestry Commission,” the Director-General said.
He noted that Cabinet agreed that Trotman will engage Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan to examine short and medium-term remedies.
A report will be submitted to Cabinet following the Ministerial engagements.
GAWU reported that there have been regular delays in the payment of salaries and other benefits to staff.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Union said: “salary is personal property and the management had no right to delay such payments beyond the stipulated payday.”
According to the Union, in recent times, the Commission has been charged with additional responsibilities but has not been receiving any additional resources to meet its new obligations.
The Union pointed out to Minister Trotman that the Forestry Act stipulates any shortfall in the Commission’s expenditure be charged to the Consolidated Fund.
GAWU also expressed concern regarding the $600M invested in the High Street (former Radio Station) property as well as other debts.
On Wednesday, Harmon said the Government is also mulling the sale of that building which is not being used.