IMF lauds Govt’s ammendments to NRF Act  

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commended Guyana for the ammendments made to the National Resource Act 2019, which now ensure the prudent, transparent and accountable management of the country’s oil funds.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh following the passage of the new NRF Act in December 2021.

Government passed the amended Natural Resource Fund Act 2021 – No. 19 of 2021, in December, repealing clauses imposed by the previous APNU+AFC Administration.

The IMF issued its preliminary report on June 3, following successful virtual consultations with local officials between May 18 and June 1.  

The team, led by incoming mission head Alina Carare and outgoing head Meredith McIntyre, met with Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, Central Bank Governor Gobin Ganga, other senior officials, and stakeholders.

The recent amendments to the 2019 Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act set clear ceilings on withdrawals from the Fund for budgetary spending, and promote transparency in the management and use of oil resources. Staff [IMF] praise the authorities’ thorough review of the 2019 NRF Act before making amendments, and the restraint in using any oil revenues before the passage of the amendments,”the international financial institution relayed in its report.

Among the amendments made to the previous Act was the establishment of a crucial body to manage the fund.

His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, in April appointed Major General (ret’d) Joseph Singh, MSS, as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fund. Other members include Mr. David Lammy, MP (UK) and Carolyn Rodrigues, along with Mr. Dunstan Barrow and Mr. Ramesh Dookoo. 

Unlike the previous Bill, the current law was passed by a democratically elected government in parliament with full powers. The Bill also removes extensive powers from the Minister of Finance and vests them in the new Board of Directors.

It proposes simple, clear formula that the general public could understand, ensuring complete transparency. It also adds a new requirement that all reports and receipts of all petroleum revenues must be published in the official gazette. Failure to comply with this obligation would result in a harsher penalty of $5 million, and 10-years’ prison time.

The new Bill also makes provision for the establishment of a nine-member committee for practical and effective non-governmental oversight. 

The former APNU+AFC Administration came under fire for rushing the Bill through parliament in January 2019, although it was defeated by a No-Confidence Motion less than a month earlier.