President Ali awaiting Parliament’s nominee for NRF Board

President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali has stated that he is still awaiting Parliament to submit its nominee for the Natural Resource Fund Board after which he will be announcing the other members.

“As soon as Parliament gives me the name, you will have the Board,” the Head of State told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Friday.

Last month, the Parliamentary Committee of Appointments approved the nomination of Dunstan Barrow as a Director to sit on the NRF Board, which will have oversight of Guyana’s oil revenues.

Barrow, a former People’s National Congress (PNC) Member of Parliament, was nominated by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government.

However, his nomination did not attract the approval of the PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition.

It was reported that there were initially 10 nominees – three from the Government and seven from the Opposition.

The Government’s nominees were Barrow, former Guyana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Non-Resident Ambassador to France and Russia, Hamley Case, and former Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Clement Sealey.

Amongst the Opposition nominees were Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram and former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Vincent Adams.

Reports are that the coalition members were upset that Government would use its one-seat majority in the National Assembly to eventually have its nominee selected.

But following a press conference last month, President Ali told reporters that the parliamentary process provides for the Committee of Appointments to select someone of public standing in society to serve as the Director of the Board.

“Let’s focus for one moment on the three names that were submitted, that tells you how much interest we want in ‘One Guyana’, not PPP names, three citizens of this country. When we talk about ‘One Guyana’ you need to have integrity,” the Head of State noted.

While stating that he has no issues with the Opposition nominees, President Ali had contended that the parliamentary process must be respected. Moreover, he pointed out the duplicity of the APNU/AFC coalition, which had rejected Ram’s nomination for the Chairmanship of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) but is now supporting his nomination for the NRF Board.

Meanwhile, in addition to Barrow’s nomination for the NRF Board, the Committee of Appointments also went ahead and approved the Government’s nomination of Clement Sealey to sit on the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee under the NRF Act.

With the nominees approved by the Committee of Appointments, the next step is for a motion and draft report to be presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which will then have to take a decision on whether to send the nominations to the floor of the National Assembly. After the nominee is approved by the House, his name will then be sent to the President.

The three-to-five-member NRF Board is expected to be made up of mostly civil society representatives with one nominee from the Private Sector and one from Parliament. The other members are to be appointed by the President.

President Ali had previously made it clear that he will select the individuals to sit on the Board with the utmost integrity.

“We have some very good names that is being considered and I’m just waiting now for Parliament to send their recommendations and then with immediacy, you will see the Board,” the Head of State said earlier this year.

Section 5 (2) of the NRF Act provides that the Directors shall be selected from among persons who have wide experience and ability in legal, financial, business or administrative matters but no member of the National Assembly is eligible.

The NRF Act was passed in the National Assembly in December, amid chaos caused by the APNU/AFC Opposition who disrupted the proceedings after the Bill was brought up for debate.

The Bill, which has since been assented to by President Ali, outlines that the Directors will hold the post for not more than two years with eligibility for reappointment, and all appointments, as well as changes in appointments, are to be gazetted and published on the Ministry’s website and in two daily newspapers.