President defends integrity of NRF board nominees

President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has rejected claims that the government used its majority in the National Assembly to deny opposition nominees the opportunity to serve on the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Board.

Responding to the claim on the sidelines of a press conference hosted on Sunday at State House, President Ali made it clear that the parliamentary process dictates that the Committee of Appointments selects someone of public standing in society to serve as the director of the board.

“Let’s focus for one moment on the three names that were submitted, that tells you how much interest we want in ‘One Guyana’, not PPP names, three citizens of this country. When we talk about ‘One Guyana’ you need to have integrity.”

The three persons nominated by the government included Dunstan Barrow, who is a former PNC Member of Parliament; Hamley Case, former Guyana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Non-Resident Ambassador to France and Russia; and Clement Sealey, former Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority.

The Opposition nominees were Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram and former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Vincent Adams.

The President said he has no issues with the opposition nominees, but the parliamentary process must be respected. He said it is not about politics and should not be viewed as such.

President Ali reminded that it was the same APNU+AFC that rejected Christopher Ram’s nomination for the position as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

“Look at the duplicity, when we had the nomination for the Chair of GECOM [Guyana Elections Commission], remember what they [opposition] said…Christopher Ram was not ‘fit and proper’… and now the very same people saying Mr. Christopher Ram ‘fit and proper’. That is what I am telling you, agenda, agenda, agenda.”

The nomination of the director of the NRF board is provided for in the NRF Act 2021, which became law in December, 2021. The Board of Directors is a new governance mechanism introduced by the PPP/C government, which adds a layer of separation between political leaders and the fund, where previously there was none. The other directors are to be selected by President Ali, who noted that when parliament submits its recommendations, the names of the other members will be announced.