Natural Resource Fund Annual Report presented to Parliament
–Public Accountability and Oversight Committee Annual Report submitted
–Sixth notification made to Parliament of petroleum revenues paid into the NRF
Senior Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh on Thursday presented to the National Assembly the inaugural Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Annual Report for the fiscal year 2022, pursuant to Section 32(4) of the Natural Resource Fund Act 2021.
Minister Singh acknowledged the work done by the NRF Board, Public Accountability and Oversight Committee and the Investment Committee, and “commended, on behalf of the Government and the people of Guyana, the sterling work that is being done by this first board of directors and the two respective committees in setting up for the very first time, the governance architecture for this brand new but extremely important national institution – The Natural Resource Fund”.
It would be recalled that the NRF Act 2021, came into operation on January 1, 2022, replacing the illegitimate NRF Act 2019 passed by the APNU/AFC caretaker administration, and represents one of the most significant steps taken to bring greater accountability and transparency in the management of Guyana’s oil resources. The NRF Act 2021 contains several enhanced clauses, including the establishment of a Board of Directors which will be responsible for reviewing and approving the policies of the Fund and monitoring its performance, thereby separating the management of the Fund from the Minister responsible for Finance. The Board of Directors of the NRF was appointed by His Excellency President Irfaan Ali on August 30 2022, and the members are as follows:
- Major General (Retired) Joseph Singh, MSS, Chairperson
- Mr. Dunstan Barrow, A.A., Director (Nominated by the National Assembly)
- Mr. Ramesh Dookhoo, Director (Representative of the Private Sector)
- Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Director
- Professor Compton Bourne, O.E., Director
At today’s sitting of the National Assembly, the Speaker of the National Assembly also circulated the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee Annual Report for the fiscal year 2022, pursuant to Section 6(6) of the Natural Resource Fund Act 2021. Pursuant to Section 6 of the Natural Resource Fund Act 2021, the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee of the Fund was appointed August 30, 2022 and the members are as follows:
- Mr. Clement Sealey, Chairperson (Nominee of the National Assembly)
- Pastor Wendell Jeffrey, Member (Representative of the Religious Community)
- Ms. Savitri Balbahadur, Member (Representative of the Religious Community)
- Mr. Abu Zaman, Member (Representative of the Religious Community)
- Mr. Desmond Sears, Member (Representative of the Private Sector)
- Mr. Ryan Alexander, Member (Representative of the Private Sector)
- Mr. Aslim Singh, Member (Representative of Organised Labour)
- Ms. Dawn Gardener, Member (Representative of Organised Labour)
- Mr. Teni Housty, Member (Representative of the Professions)
The 9-member Public Accountability and Oversight Committee is responsible of providing non-governmental oversight of the operations of the Fund, replacing the cumbersome 22-member committee previously proposed in the NRF Act 2019.
The Finance Minister also presented today, Notification of Receipts to the National Assembly of all petroleum revenues paid into the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) during the period 1st April 2023 to 30th June 2023, pursuant to Section 33 (2) of the NRF Act 2021.
It would be recalled, one of the key amendments in the proposed legislation is that the Minister could face up to ten years imprisonment if he fails to disclose the receipt of any petroleum revenue received by Government in the Official Gazette within three months of receipt of such monies.
Another key improvement of the NRF Act 2021 was that not only did it require the Government to seek Parliamentary approval for withdrawals from the Fund, but it also sets out new, simplified calculations needed for ensuring that the Fund achieves its purposes. In line with this requirement, in 2022, a total of US$607.6 million was withdrawn from the Fund and a further US$1,002.1 million is projected to be withdrawn this year. Government will continue to work aggressively through sound and transformative investments of oil resources from the NRF.