Natural Resource Fund operations delayed due to non-cooperation – Min. Jordan

— Opposition and Private Sector Commission dragging their feet

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The failure to nominate representatives to manage Guyana’s Natural Resources Fund (NRF), through an Oversight Committee, is hindering the fund’s operations. According to Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, this is failure falls at the feet of the Parliamentary Opposition and the Private Sector Commission (PSC), who are yet to nominate their representatives for the committee.

Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan.

The Finance Minister shared his views on the sidelines of a formal ceremony to mark the arrival of the oil production vessel, Liza Destiny. Minister Jordan explained that in the interim, assistance is being utilised from Ghana and “an IMF representative is expected to come also.”

He, however, noted that the PSC recently responded, stating that its delayed response was due to the “transitioning of its management teams” and “they [PSC] would reply to me when they work on it.” He further described the attempts, by some media houses and self-proclaimed experts, to mislead and confuse the public as “dastardly”, adding that “it shows a clear lack of understanding of the legislation which has been all over the place.”

Minister Jordan reiterated that there are stringent rules about depositing and withdrawing funds, unlike what has been proposed by the Opposition Leader, Hon. Bharrat Jagdeo – which is the monies should be deposited into the Consolidated Fund. The Finance Minister described the opposition leaders’ suggestion as “essentially a black hole, where an indeterminate entity or person, will determine how much will come out to go into the Natural Resource Fund.”

In stark difference, the government’s model will see “everything going to the NRF, so there is a transparent process. You know how much is in that fund and then there is a detailed process on how it can be withdrawn,” he explained.

Going forward, Minister Jordan explained that if the government could not get the 22-member committee established, “the account would be set up and governed by the law that is in place. It will receive the monies which will be left there until we can get a Parliament going; because Parliament is heavily involved in the withdrawal process from the NRF.” He added, “You will have money, but you can’t spend.”

The Finance Minister indicated that he does not regard the inability to spend monies from the NRF as having an impact on the government’s projects and programmes.

“There will still be spending. Just that there will be delayed spending. In the meanwhile, what we have to be do is to compile the various ideas in the budget and then to see when we could get the budget out; based on when elections are held, and how much funding actually can take place during next year, but don’t forget monies will accumulate very slowly in the NRF, and even when it gets into the NRF, it’s only a certain portion that can be withdrawn.”

Approximate estimates are that Guyana will earn $63B (US$300M) annually from the Liza 1 well.

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