The parliamentary Opposition has plans to table legislation that would seek to create some greater level of transparency and accountability in the petroleum sector.
This is according to Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo who stated that he has met with officials of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Open Society Foundation, seeking their assistance to table these pieces of legislation in Parliament.
The former Head of State noted that the idea is to have oil companies and Government become more transparent in their transactions and for them to account to the people of Guyana.
“Any money from any oil company… and that the Minister of Finance will have one week or two weeks to gazette the receipt and within a month must notify the National Assembly…and the money is only paid to the Consolidated Fund or to the Sovereign Wealth Fund,” Jagdeo said in explaining the legislation.
The former President added should any of those fail, the idea is to have laws in place that will see a 10-year jail term instituted for non-disclosure of an agreement or transaction.
He feels by doing this, such incidents would not be allowed to happen again and companies would also have an obligation too.
“If they (companies) don’t notice that they made a payment to the Ministry and they don’t see it in the public domain….these companies will be obligated to disclose,” he explained, adding that the PPP was hoping to draft legislation for tabling in Parliament along those lines.
“That will immediately solve a lot of these issues. So, both the company will have to say it, and the Minister of Finance. And there is a huge penalty particularly for the Minister of Finance, who has a fiduciary duty in case that is not done. That is what we hope to have some time,” he further added.
Jagdeo noted that going this route will be able to safeguard Guyana from experiencing issues of bribery and money laundering especially in relation to the petroleum sector.
This sector will most likely attract greater level of investments over the next few years, starting in 2020, when oil production is expected to begin.