Hoyte accuses international agencies of hypocrisy
- Kowlessar refutes allegations By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
January 12, 2002

OPPOSITION Leader, Mr. Desmond Hoyte says his People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R), after careful consideration, has concluded that there is "a lot of hypocrisy" among some international financial and other agencies which have a role to play in the development of this country.

The agencies and financial institutions say one thing but end up doing something different, he charged at a Thursday news conference at his party's Congress Place, Georgetown headquarters.

"We have written (these) organisations expressing our concerns about the absence of good governance and we have come to the conclusion that there is a lot of hypocrisy among these international financial and other agencies. They say one thing but they do something different," he said.

He referred to a `stone scam' in the sea defence sector in which funds from both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank were involved and said that in a policy statement, the President of the World Bank had declared, "We are not going to deal with countries that misuse our money and are shown to be corrupt".

"Now here is a clear case of corruption and misuse of funds provided by IFI's (International Financial Institutions) but they continue to finance the Government...so there is a hiatus between policy statement and actuality," Hoyte contended.

He claimed many of these organisations want only to be able to say at the end of the day: "Look we have disbursed so many million dollars..."

"...it looks nice you know (to say) we have disbursed so many million dollars to Guyana and to other poor countries; (it's) as if the mere disbursing of money is the consideration and not really the development of the country based upon that disbursement," he said.

He alleged too that the Government got debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) scheme "even though it did not meet the criteria".

HIPC is intended to ease the huge debt burdens of eligible countries for funds to be channeled to health and other key areas.

Hoyte claimed Guyana has received tranches under the HIPC initiative because "the (IMF) and (World Bank) wanted to say we have made disbursement to some countries".

"Well, Guyana was lucky to be one of those countries that got the money," he offered.

But Finance Minister, Mr. Saisnarine Kowlessar refuted the allegations.

He noted that the multilateral institutions have set guidelines and conditionalities within which they operate and unless these conditions are met they do not normally approve programmes.

"It is absurd for a person who is a former Finance Minister and former President to make such a statement," he said. Hoyte was a former President and Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development during the PNC's tenure in government.

The Finance Minister pointed out that these decisions are usually made by the boards of the multilateral financial institutions after having worked with the technical people here and after careful assessment.

He said the allegations by Hoyte were an attack on the multilateral financial institutions.

He pointed out that a decision point document prepared by the staff of the IMF and the World Bank for the enhanced HIPC relief for Guyana sets out Guyana's performance based on set criteria and clearly states that Guyana has completed most of these prior actions and that they are satisfied.

According to the document, in May of 1999 the IMF and the International Development Association (IDA) decided that Guyana had satisfied the conditions for reaching the completion point under the original HIPC initiative. Since the decision, the HIPC initiative has been enhanced and Kowlessar said this document presents Guyana's position with respect to the HIPC initiative and proposes Board approval of a decision point for additional assistance under the enhanced programme.

Page three of the document (paragraph 4) states that "the authorities are strongly committed to poverty reduction and to continue consultations with civil society and external donor agencies in preparing the full PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) and implementing poverty reduction programmes. The authorities are aiming to complete the full PRSP by mid-2001."

Page five of the document states that "since 1998, Guyana has made substantial progress in implementing structural reforms. These reforms focused on strengthening the financial system, the business climate (through privatisation and revised regulatory frameworks), tax administration, trade liberalisation, the budget process, and initiating civil service reform".

On the same page, it is stated that "substantial progress has been achieved in reforming the financial sector".