Guyanese Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has assured stakeholders that funds to be used from the US$18M signing bonus will first be placed in the country’s Consolidated Fund before being disbursed.
The US$18 signing bonus paid by US Oil Major Exxon Mobil in July 2016 following the inking of an amended Production Sharing Agreement was placed in a special account at the Bank of Guyana despite calls for its deposit into the Consolidated Fund (national coffers).
Speaking to a post Cabinet Press briefing at the South American country’s Ministry of the Presidency on Thursday, Minister Harmon told reporters,” “It is from that [Consolidated] Fund that any team whatsoever will be paid, whether they work before or they work after, it is from the Consolidated Fund that these funds will come from.”
This, he said, would ensure that government makes applications to the National Assembly for approval for these funds to be used as legal fees or training—the two identified purposes for the signing bonus.
The Minister of State was adamant, it is “not some private account that you go and draw down some and leave back some and so on.”
According to Minister Harmon, the process being employed for use of the monies is a matter of prudent fiscal arrangement.
The money, he said, will be placed there at a time when the Minister of Finance recognizes that it is the time for it to go.
He subsequently told OilNOW, “It’s the consolidated fund, that is the cycle…What we’re saying is that any money that is in the fund in that signing bonus goes into the Consolidated Fund before it goes out to anywhere.”
Mr. Harmon was unable to say what amount of the US$18M has been deposited to the Consolidated Fund and dispersed to date.
He told OilNOW, “I cannot say, but what I can say to you is that whatever amount, that it is in the Consolidated Fund from which any sums are spent either for training or anything like that.”
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman a day earlier had indicated to journalists, the decision by the United Nations Secretary General to refer the border controversy with Venezuela to the International Court of Justice, “triggered some release of funds but that’s a matter for the Bank of Guyana and the Ministry of Finance.”
OilNOW understands that the US$3M of $18M signing bonus earmarked for training in the Oil and Gas industry has already begun to make its way into the annual budgetary cycle through the Consolidated Fund.