The European Union on Tuesday corrected the misinformation that has caused much controversy between the Government and Opposition over the budget support to the local sugar industry.
Government’s chief spokesperson, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had called out the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) last week to explain what it is the Administration did with the $348 billion it had received from the EU. However, according to the EU Guyana only received $34.8 billion.
He was at the time drawing reference to the PPP/C stint in office during which time the EU had turned over to Guyana through several tranches, budget support to the local sugar industry as a result of the unilateral changes made in the preferential arrangement with Guyana and the EU for the purchase of sugar under the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) sugar-producing countries pact.
The misquoted figure originally disseminated by the EU was picked up by the Minister of State who proceeded to chastise the PPP/C during a post-Cabinet briefing.
He said that the 348 was not channelled to the sugar industry.
However, the local EU delegation by way of a public missive on Tuesday sought to clear the air and has since apologised for the inconvenience caused.
According to the EU statement, the figure of €166,667,000 was given as the amount granted by the EU in budget support to the sugar industry in Guyana between 2006 and 2013.
“While this is the correct figure, the corresponding amount in Guyana dollars was inadvertently given as GYD$348.5 billion, when it should have been approximately GYD$34.85 billion (depending exchange rate used)…Therefore, the amount allocated in budget support to sugar by the EU from 2006 to 2013 was €166.67 million, or in Guyanese dollars GYD$34.85 billion.”
Responding to Jagdeo’s call for further inquiries into Government’s excesses, the State Minister at the time suggested that an inquiry into the Budget support from the EU would uncover what went on.
According to Harmon, “if you inquire into this, you will find that the bulk of this money went elsewhere.”
In fact, Jagdeo rejected the statements as a “total falsehood”, stating that the contention being peddled that the EU paid to Guyana that huge sum of money as compensation for the 36 per cent cut in preferential market prices for sugar is far from the truth.
The former Head of State pointed out that the total sum paid to Guyana was approximately $30 billion. “Indeed, the final instalment of G$5.4 billion was paid to the coalition Government in October last year.
The sum of G$348.5 billion is over ten times the sum actually received by Guyana,” he said in a statement.
Further, more than $30 billion was spent by the PPP/C Administration on the Skeldon Factory alone, Jagdeo said, while making a commitment to address this issue more expansively upon his return to Guyana later this week.
The EU announced the closure of its funding programme, which saw Guyana benefiting from billions in budgetary support to aid in sugar sector reform.
EU Ambassador to Guyana, Jernej Videtič said while the last grant was issued in 2013, it was not released to Guyana until last year after the country failed to meet the necessary criteria required.
The EU Sugar Grant was established to compensate for the 36 per cent cut in preferential market prices after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had ruled that the preferential market access violated global free trade rules.
A total of 1.28 billion euros were allocated for disbursement to the sugar protocol countries benefiting from the programme to help them adapt to the new market conditions. Guyana received its first instalment in 2006.