Natural Resource Fund bill laid in House

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan during the 99th Sitting of the National Assembly. (Photo: DPI)

Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Monday introduced the Natural Resource Fund Bill 2018 for first reading in the National Assembly.

The bill, which was published in the Official Gazette last Thursday, seeks to ensure that there is proper management of revenues generated from Guyana’s natural resources, inclusive of petroleum, and that the present and future generations benefit.

The bill provides for the establishment of a Natural Resources Fund (NRF) to manage natural resource wealth in an effective and efficient manner by (a) ensuring that volatility in natural resource revenues do not lead to volatile public spending; (b) ensuring the revenues do not lead to a loss of economic competitiveness; (c) fairly transferring the wealth across generations to ensure that future generations benefit from it; and (d) using the wealth to finance national development priorities, including green economy initiatives.

Section 3(3) states that the NRF shall be a public fund to be held in the name of the Bank of Guyana on behalf of the government and the people. Section 4 specifically caters for the NRF to be “managed according to the principles of good governance, including transparency and accountability, and international best practices, including the Santiago Principles.”

To that end, the bill caters for the creation of a 22-member accountability and oversight committee, which is to be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the compliance of the government and other relevant persons with the provisions of the Act; monitoring and evaluating whether the Fund has been managed in accordance with the principles of transparency, good governance and international best practices, including the Santiago Principles; providing independent assessment of the management of the Fund and utilisation of withdrawals; and facilitating public consultations on the management of and withdrawals from the fund.

The bill provides at Section 7 for the committee, which will be appointed by the president, to be comprised of persons nominated by consortiums of civil society organisations and community-based organisations, the Bar Associations of Guyana, Guyana Consumers’ Association, the Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc, the Guyana Press Association, the trade unions, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana, the Private Sector Commission, each of the ten administrative regions and the governing council of the University of Guyana. Among the membership will also be persons representing women and the youth.

According to Part IV of the bill, the minister shall be responsible for the “overall” management of the fund as well as the preparation of the Investment Mandate and in doing so will seek the advice of the Investment Committee, be assisted by the Senior Investment Advisor and Analyst and enter into an operational agreement with the Bank for the operational management of the fund.

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