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Monday, June 14, 2021

Guyana government still not ready to tap into over GY$53 billion received in oil revenue

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Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat has reaffirmed that the government will not yet touch the money that has been deposited into the Natural Resources Fund from the sale of Guyana’s oil until that fund has been reconfigured to ensure transparency.

Mr. Bharrat was on Monday speaking at the opening ceremony of the virtual Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Week hosted by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) which is executing the Guyana Extractive Sector Transparency Project on behalf of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The event ends on Friday.

“As a testimony of our unwavering commitment to transparency, government has vouched [not to] spend any revenue…from our petroleum resources until our Natural Resources Fund is recalibrated in a way that guarantees the transparent management in an arm’s length way from political interference,” said the minister with oversight for the oil and gas sector.

He noted too that when government begins spending the petroleum revenue it will be comforted in knowing “that transparency is our guiding star.”

As at March 2021, the Natural Resources Fund had over US$260 million (approx. GY$53 billion) as a result of crude oil sales receipts and royalties dating back to Guyana’s first crude export in early 2020 following the commencement of production in December 2019.

Mr. Bharrat stated that by transfiguring the managing of the extractive sectors, “we will guarantee that this economic lifeline is preserved so [it can] continue to act as a vital source of investment growth and foreign exchange to support the livelihoods of our people.”

Emphasizing the administration’s focus on transparency, he said the government recently revealed its commitment to pursue an active legislative agenda – one that will implement oversight measures, which will enhance transparency and accountability. “We have adopted the governance mantras of transparency and accountability to guide our footsteps along the developmental pathway that the watershed moment has presented us. We have been working closely with the Attorney General’s Chambers to move our legislative drafting which will overhaul the petroleum regulatory framework,” he said.

Citing the March 30, 2021, publishing of the 2nd Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Guyana Report and the publishing of the 1st Report back in April 2019, Mr. Bharrat said the government hopes to engage with stakeholders to overcome some of the challenges encountered in the information gathering process. He noted too that the government has started the procurement process for the consultancy for Guyana’s 3rd EITI Report.

“Government published and made available it’s 1st and 2nd EITI Reports as it continues to support the work of the EITI to continued engagement with a view to overcoming existing challenges. Already the government has issued requests for proposal to solicit Expressions of Interests for the consultancy [for the 3rd Report] and has commenced the process for the establishment of a Beneficial Ownership register as required by the EITI Standard,” he said.

The Guyana EITI Secretariat falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Natural Resources which is the agency appointed by the Cabinet as the lead for EITI implementation in Guyana.

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