Sovereign Wealth Fund assented to

Guyana on track to handle oil and gas profits – Min.  Jordan

DPI, Guyana, Friday, March 29, 2019

Guyana will be one of the few countries to have a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) in place before “First Oil”. So says Finance Minister Winston Jordan.

In an exclusive interview with the Department of Public Information, the Finance Minister said the Act governing the SWF was assented to on January 23, 2019, by President David Granger. The next process is to implement the Act and establish the committees mandated by the legislation. These include the Macro-Investment Committee and the Public Oversight Committee (POC), the latter which will examine proposals to manage the fund’s resources.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan

Minister Jordan explained that the POC is slated to be the largest body with 22 members, representing a wide cross-section of society, “We will be writing letters to the various persons mentioned in the committee, indicating their role and function and inviting them, soon, to attend sensitisation sessions.” The minister anticipates some challenges as a selection will have to be determined of “groups most representative of women, civil society, trade unions and youths.” The letters will be dispatched before the end of April.

There is a need for an expert, Minister indicated, to work with the Finance Ministry, “for at least a year or two” to help with identifying proposal requests which are in keeping with the core issues of managing a fund. Personnel will also be needed to do “due diligence” on proposals along with investment advisers. According to the minister at least seven “well known” firms have indicated interest in getting on board with the government, to offer investment advice.

With the preparations on track, Minister Jordan indicated that “The mere fact that we have an Act, virtually a year ahead of oil is a significant achievement, which has been praised by a number of international institutions. We have literally put our money where our mouth is! Now is the time to implement and have everything ready so that when the first dollar goes into the fund, we know what to do.”

According to Minister Jordan, “The Act is very strict about the withdrawal of funds, accountability and so on, are very, very tight and praised by a number of experts in the field.” He emphasised that it was a national effort and the proof of the pudding will always be in the eating, “if a 22-member oversight committee cannot oversee, with a disparate number of bodies that are represented, then I don’t know who would.”

Minister Jordan said, he was proud of the fact that the government was able to reach to the current stage of preparations with the available financing. He further praised the Commonwealth Secretariat for its input and Finance Ministry staffers for their “constant dedication” towards the effort.

The Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) is defined as pools of money derived from a country’s reserves, which are set aside for investment purposes that will benefit the country’s economy and citizens. The funding for a Sovereign Wealth Fund comes from Central Bank reserves that accumulate because of budget and trade surpluses, and even from revenue generated from the exports of natural resources.

Paul McAdam

Image: The Department of Public Information