In the autumn of 1996 Oceanor's Seawatch project in India received a financial grant of 27 million kroner from the government's environmental fund. Sources in NORAD say to NorWatch that NORAD was ordered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that the application was given a positive consideration, in spite of objections within NORAD.
Norsk Hydro's controversial bauxite project in Orissa, Utkal Alumina, is constantly facing opposition. Investment and commencement of construction work has been postponed a second time, and this time Hydro blames assignments in other parts of the world and difficulties in finding a new, fourth partner for the project. This gives reason to ask: Has the massive, local opposition made Hydro doubt the basis of their own prestige project? Or is the co-operation with the Indian partners about to cool off?
In Dagens Næringsliv (The Norwegian Financial Daily) the 15th of May NorWatch criticizes the Government for not taking ethical considerations into account when planning the investments of the Oil Fund. The same view is being advocated in the same article by Carlos Joly, the director of Storebrand's Environmental Value Fund.
In spite of strong requests from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop all trade with the military regime in Burma, the large furniture chain The Norwegian Furniture Center (Det Norske Møbelsenteret, DNM), and IdŠ-Skeidar are now selling garden furniture made of rain-forest teak to the whole country. This import was increased six-fold from 1995 to 1996. The wood has been misrepresented as plantation timber, but the producer admits that the wood comes from the world's last existing teak forest.
At the end of 1996 the Norwegian Parliament granted 50 million kroner (US$ 6,6 million) from the aid budget to establish NORFUND. The fund will invest in businesses in developing countries and will add to today's pot of 476 million kroner for business development in NORAD. In 1996, this meant an addition of more than 11%. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it is expected that the fund will be given 200-300 million kroner this year. This amount constitutes an addition of up to 63% of today's aid grants for business development. Completely without any debate, the support for the business sector is increased in the aid budget.
The Chain-store "Ide"'s advertisement for the sale of "English teak garden furniture" came to an abrupt end on the 24th of April. It was after the exposure of the Burmese origin of the teak timber, which took place during a debate on radio "P4" between Future In Our Hands's spokesman Mr. Steinar Lem and "Ide"'s board chairman, Mr. Morten Andresen, that the company announced later that day, to stop all sales of its Burmese furniture in Norway.
Winfried Overbeek from CIMI, the Brazilian catholic church's organisation for indigenous questions, rejects Erling Lorentzen's allegations carried in the Norwegian media in connection to the conflict between his company Aracruz and the Indians. NorWatch sums up CIMI's views:
Future In Our Hands, have on behalf of two representatives of the Tupinikin and Guarani Indians in Brazil, in connection to their May visit, sought the audience of King Harald of Norway. The Indians wish to meet the King to tell about their year long fight to get their traditional land back from the cellulose producer Aracruz. The Indians hope that the King, who is related to Aracruz 's board chairman Erling Lorentzen, can support their demand.
Last newsletter's expose of Norsk Hydro's use of cadmium in its production of plastics in Tamil Nadu has led to reactions. According to Norsk Hydro's petrochemical division head, Håkon Langballe, the company will cease to use cadmium, and he also promises an investigation into the use of chemicals in other countries.
NORAD's appropriation to feasibility studies only led to a small degree of business establishments in developing countries. NorWatch has gone through the payments to Norwegian companies in the years 1991 and 1992, and it appears that as much of 68% of the money, more than 10 million NOK, never led to anything. (1 USD is app. 7.5 NOK) NORAD even provided money to companies which were practically bankrupt. It is good reason to question the quality requirements NORAD put down for project seriousness, but NORAD itself is happy with the situation.
Through the newspaper Aftenposten, the department director Raymond Johansen in NORAD, the governmental aid program of Norway, rejected the critic raised by NorWatch against the Directorate's grant for prefeasibility studies (Newsletter 4/97). He emphasised that NORAD is satisfied that just about one third of the grants give concrete result. But we are after all talking about a sum more than 10 million kroner in aid, for the years 1991 and 1992, which has been wasted!
In the early 80's, 8 trawlers/purse seiners built at Norwegian shipyards were sold to Ghana. The delivery were a part of the Ship Export campaign, and received a loan of almost 200 million NOK. Initially, NORAD (Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation) would not approve the developing element of the sale, but yielded to strong pressure in order to secure Norwegian jobs. The boats were a financial disaster for the recipient, Ghana, and today the World Bank is in effect paying the loan. The boats are more less all laid up - only one of the boats are partly in activity.