“It is his incompetence that he reflected there, his lack of knowledge” ─ Jagdeo chides Norton’s misconception of Natural Resource Fund

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, has addressed a misconception in relation to the Natural Resources Fund (NRF), perpetuated by Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton.

General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

During a press conference at Freedom House on Thursday, the general secretary clarified that the investment committee overlooks the investment of sums that remain in the NRF and not the portion that is allocated to the budget.

Norton at his Tuesday press conference was questioned on whether he was concerned that the investment committee has not disclosed how the withdrawals from the fund are being spent. In his response, he concluded that the current government does not know how to budget well.

“First of all, I am shocked that a reporter is linking the investment fund to the spending in the budget, and Norton didn’t know about that, or couldn’t point it out.

“The money that will be saved for the long term-the sum that is not allocated to the budget will have to be invested, and the investment committee is related to those resources that will remain in the fund.

The general secretary expressed the view thatthe opposition leader merely used the question as an opportunity to contend that the PPP/C government ‘does not budget well’.

“It’s unbelievable that a leader of the opposition could not point this out. He concluded that the PPP doesn’t know how to budget. It is his incompetence that he reflected there, his lack of knowledge. Can you imagine that somebody who wants to be the president of this country, couldn’t point out this minor difference to the people?”

In the interest of transparency, the Minister of Finance was tasked with informing the public of payments to and withdrawals from the NRF.

“At budget time, there is a formula that we put in the law. The formula, when applied to the total balance [of the NRF] at the end of the year, will determine for the fiscal year, how much money will come from the fund. Every time we withdraw from the fund, we notify. It doesn’t change the amount that will be withdrawn. That is determined at budget time and by formula,” Dr. Jagdeo further explained.

Parliamentary approval was granted for a total of US$1.002 billion to be transferred during the fiscal year 2023. A total of US$400 million has been withdrawn so far for the year.