Process begins to select nominees for NRF Board of Directors

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Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira

The process has been launched for the National Assembly, through the Parliamentary Committee of Appointments, to select one of the nominees for the Natural Resources Fund (NRF) Board of Directors.

The motion was moved in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It seeks to task the Committee of Appointments with recommending to the National Assembly, a candidate to be appointed by President Dr Irfaan Ali to serve as one of the Directors of the Natural Resources Fund.

The motion states that “Whereas 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, one of whom shall be nominated by the National Assembly and one of whom shall be a representative of the Private Sector.”

“And whereas Section 5 (10) of the said Act provides that a person shall not be eligible for appointment as a Director if that person, inter alia, is a member of the National Assembly; And Whereas Standing Order 84 (3)(b)(iii) provides that it shall be the duty of the Committee on Appointments to make recommendations to the National Assembly on any matter referred to it by the Assembly from time to time,” the motion adds.

Meanwhile, Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Gail Teixeira, in an invited comment to this publication, explained that with the motion now sent to the Committee of Appointments, they will have to meet to discuss a possible nominee who is not a Member of Parliament.

It is unclear when the Committee will meet on the issue, however, seeing as the National Assembly is presently in the midst of Budget 2022, which includes the reading of the budget today and the subsequent debating of the budget and perusal of the estimates, all before it is ultimately passed.

The parliamentary website lists Teixeira as the Chairperson of the Committee of Appointments. Also listed are Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr Vindhya Persaud, Minister within the Office of Prime Minister Kwame McCoy and Government Members of Parliament (MPs) Alister Charlie and Yvonne Fredericks-Pearson.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary Opposition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) is represented on the Committee by MPs Annette Ferguson, Nicolette Henry, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley and Khemraj Ramjattan.

Earlier this month, President Ali had said that as the Head of State responsible for appointing them, he has been examining the names of potential members of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Management Board.

The three-to-five-member Board is expected to be made up of mostly civil society representatives. According to President Ali, the selection and appointment of the Board will be “urgent”. President Ali also made it clear that he will select the individuals to sit on the Board with the utmost integrity.

The NRF Act was passed in the National Assembly in December, amid chaos caused by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition who did their utmost to disrupt the proceedings after the Natural Resource Fund Bill was brought up for debate. The Bill has since been assented to by President Ali.

The Bill provides for the National Assembly to nominate one of the Directors, while another one will be a representative of the Private Sector. It was noted too 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.

The new Bill states that the Board of Directors will be responsible for the overall management of the Fund, reviewing and approving the policies of the Fund, monitoring the performance of the Fund, ensuring compliance with the approved policies of the Fund, and ensuring that the Fund is managed in compliance with the Act and all other applicable laws.

Moreover, the Board is also expected to report to the subject Minister, who is allowed to give policy directives as deemed necessary to their functions. In addition, the proposed legislation caters for the appointment of two committees, one of which is the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee, which will provide non-Government oversight of the Fund and comprises various civil society representatives who will have to present a report to the National Assembly annually.