President David Granger on Friday said that “Guyanese can be assured that the Coalition Government will not be intoxicated by oil. It will manage this new resource in a responsible manner for the benefit of present and future generations.”
The president, who was at the time addressing the 20th Biennial Congress of the Peoples’ National Congress/ Reform (PNC/R), said with Guyana on the verge of becoming an oil-producing state, his government is laying the necessary groundwork for the petroleum sector to be managed in accordance with international best practices.
The president believes that the resource will be developed for the benefit of all Guyanese once managed under an inclusionary system, as is the plan.
The Head of State said the Department of Energy within the Ministry of the Presidency, established on August 1, will ensure that a “sound organisational, operational, legislative and regulatory framework” is implemented to manage the sector.
The Department is currently recruiting international and national experts to assist in this task, he informed.
The Government’s Green Paper laid on August 8 in the National Assembly will see the establishment of a Natural Resource Fund which, President Granger noted, will ensure revenues accrued from oil and gas are used prudently.
Meanwhile, Government’s recent tabling of the Green Paper which sets out guidelines for the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund has not been accepted by the Opposition.
General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo says the main reason for this objection is that the Opposition was expecting draft legislation instead.
He said the time has passed for discussions on the model for the fund, as the Government had adequate time to prepare for this sector for more than three years now.
“Now to be confronted with a discussion paper takes us right back to 2015. And so they failed to fulfill all of their promises of creating a framework for the Sovereign Wealth Fund, so we are back to square one now” Jadgeo reasoned.
Another issue raised by Jagdeo is the model used in the green paper which ignores best practices around the world and dictates that there is minimal political involvement.
Although Government has catered for a representative from the Opposition to sit on the Fund, Jagdeo has already objected to this.
The Green Paper outlines strict fiscal rules for the management of the Fund, with Finance Minister, Winston Jordan playing an integral role in the composition of Committees responsible for the Fund’s administration.
“If that will dictate what is in the legislation we will oppose it because it will lead to enormous problems down the road and too much political involvement” the Opposition leader contended.