US Ambassador calls for priority, public consultations in setting up SWF

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“The development model Guyana now chooses will need to be a decision the people of Guyana make together through a process of public consultations and legislative debate.  I want to emphasize that, as Guyana considers its future, it will not be enough simply to have a “rainy day fund” or even an investment fund, but to institute a revenue and investment framework that protects and effectively leverages wealth to transform the nation.”

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway

These were the words of the United States Ambassador to Guyana, Perry L. Holloway, as he made calls, in an opinion editorial, for priority to be given to the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) to manage the revenues expected from Guyana’s oil production.

“I hope conversations will continue to prioritize implementation of a strong comprehensive sovereign wealth fund bill, in the broadest sense, that is transparent, independent, inviolable, and non-partisan” the Ambassador said among other things.

According to Holloway, “when I speak of a sovereign wealth fund, I am talking about a fund that will immediately begin to invest in education, health, infrastructure, agriculture, and security.  I am referring to a concerted effort by all stakeholders to start a continuous conversation on how best to implement fiscal plans that directly address the needs of all Guyanese now.  The urgency cannot be understated.”

He continued that “difficult decisions are ahead, whether that involves identifying the right talent to manage the fund (wherever it is found), or even making the difficult decision to borrow at concessional rates that will not be available tomorrow to develop the present.  However, the investment today will pay off tomorrow.”

The Ambassador is of the view that development of a comprehensive SWF is the “right call and sends the right message to the Guyanese people and international donors and investors alike, that, above all else, Guyana is ready to come to the table with a plan that puts long-term, sustainable fiscal planning at the service of today’s progress, while protecting tomorrow’s future.”

He noted that too much is at stake, and decisions, “albeit measured and well-considered, must lead to decisive action in the implementation of a fund.”

Even though he commended the work that the Government is doing to have a draft SWF bill and preparing to have a fund in place by 2020, the US Ambassador underscored the need for the process to have the input of Guyanese people so as to “ensure the appropriate funds and mechanisms are in place to protect prosperity and pave a pathway to long-term growth.”

“Ultimately, that is what will mark success, not a specific type of fund, although excellent examples exist, but a fund that builds on a future aligned with prosperity and hope” Holloway posited.

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