Money in NRF will be transparently used – VP Jagdeo
Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday, reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring transparent spending of the nation’s revenues in the National Resources Fund (NRF).
The Vice President, speaking to the media at his Shiv Chanderpaul Drive office, said the previous NRF Bill that was passed following the ‘no confidence’ motion against the APNU+AFC Coalition did not provide proper management of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). In fact, its placed extraordinary powers in the Minister of Finance.
While in opposition, the PPP/C had expressed concerns about several elements of the NRF Act, particularly the need for arm’s length management of the resources, and to strengthen transparency of the receipt of funds.
The PPP/C Administration had moved to the National Assembly to amend the NRF Bill earlier this year. The new bill provides strengthened transparency, allowing any withdrawals of funds to be thoroughly scrutinised.
“This issue about transparency surrounding receipt of funds was a very important issue for the PPP and how did we fix that? By amending the law that they had, we said every transaction, big or small, from the oil and gas company, if they deposit one dollar in the fund, or $100 million the Minister of Finance within three months has to publish in the official gazette that deposit and notify the Parliament, and if he fails to do so he can go to jail for 10 years. No country that I know of has such a strong provision.”
Relative to the transferring of funds, the Vice President explained that the law passed by APNU+AFC established a macro economic committee which was chaired by the finance minister.
He said that committee would make recommendations to the minister, who in return would decide at his discretion how much money he wants to come from the funds over to the budget.
“We were determined to change that. No one person should be able to do that or have those powers,” the VP noted.
“Now we put in a simple formula; the first $500 million that comes in gets transferred into the treasury, the second $500 million a share of that and so it goes. What does this effectively do? …on December 31, any person in this country can take all the gazettes and see how much money we collected for the year,” Dr. Jagdeo added.
Meanwhile, the APNU+AFC Coalition submitted a motion to the National Assembly for government to provide $200,000 to every adult on a quarterly basis.
The Vice President rubbished the motion, saying, “if you do what they are suggesting there, we would have to spend every cent of the oil money that we get and eat it up, give it to everybody.”
This move, he lamented, will affect major transformation in Guyana’s economy. The Vice President emphasised the need for oil funds to be prudently managed and invested in the nation’s development.