Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Guyana government says it will reveal plan for spending oil money

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Guyana’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo says a comprehensive programme will be made available to the public showing how oil revenues will be spent, with focus on priority areas such as infrastructure and social upliftment, inclusive of investments in education and healthcare.

In a recent interview published on social media, the Vice President said instead of leaving all of the money to accrue for future generations, the government has to address poverty and improve access to basic services.

Dr. Jagdeo said President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, intends for there to be a balance between the utilisation and saving of oil funds.

“We cannot have poor people, people who don’t have water and electricity and basic minimum, and not address those concerns whilst we are saving for intergenerational equity,” the Vice President said.

He explained that when the time comes for the monies to be spent, the public will see a programme for its use, and a transparent, accountable process.

“The process will be publicly identifying the project, saying how much money will be utilized from the fund for that project, ensuring that the auditor general is also aware…” he said. “It will require parliamentary approval. You know, we’ll go through the parliamentary process where the project can be scrutinized, all the questions asked, and then implemented.”

That spending will not begin any time soon. The Government has made it clear that it will not use the current framework for the management of the funds, which was established by the previous administration.

The Vice President also considers the current amount in the fund, US$436 million, to be negligible.

“Now, our idea is that in the latter year by 2026 or so, 2025/2026, you’re gonna have a steep ramp up of how much money will come to us,” Dr. Jagdeo pointed out, referencing a timeline by which cost recovery for Liza Phase 1 is expected to conclude and other projects will be online. It is estimated that Guyana could be producing over 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2025.

At that juncture, the Liza Phase Two and Payara projects, which have already secured government approvals, will have already come on stream. ExxonMobil, operator of the prolific Stabroek block, is also seeking government approval for the Yellowtail development, targeting first oil in 2025.

Notably, the Guyanese government has stressed that the economy will not be based on oil, nor will it be overdependent on oil funds.

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