Last week, we highlighted the key provisions of the Petroleum Commission Bill 2017 which has been referred to a Select Committee of the National Assembly for detailed scrutiny. The Bill contains certain requirements that reflect not only a ministerial over-involvement but also overlapping responsibilities with those of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) relating to the collection of State revenues from petroleum operators. Some of the sections also conflict each other.
The Minister acknowledged the apparent over-concentration of powers in his hands and has indicated that the Bill would be reworked and submitted to the Cabinet for consideration. He indicated that some of fiscal responsibilities of the proposed Commission would be retained. However, Article 216 of the Constitution only permits the retention of State revenues by a fund established by an Act of Parliament for “the purpose of defraying the expenses of that authority”.
Today, we examine the key provisions of the Petroleum Agreement between ExxonMobil’s subsidiaries Esso, Nexen and Hess, and the Government of Guyana dated 27 June 2016. Since the Agreement was signed, there had been calls from key stakeholders for the Agreement to be made public. The authorities declined to do so, citing issues of national security and territorial integrity as well as confidentiality. However, the International Monetary Fund report entitled “Guyana: A reform Agenda for Petroleum Taxation and Revenue Management” recommended that the Agreement be made public. That report was issued in November 2017, and the IMF team that compiled the report briefed the Cabinet on its contents. In late December 2017, the authorities released the report to the public. ….