In keeping with its commitment to ensure that all revenues from Guyana’s multi-billion-barrel oil resources are accounted for, President Irfaan Ali said on Thursday his government is now moving to introduce legislation that would severely punish the non-disclosure of proceeds from the sector.
In this regard, legislation will be introduced under the current sitting of the National Assembly.
President Ali told Guyanese legislators that his government intends to account for every cent earned from the industry and for every cent that is spent. “To accomplish this, legislation will be introduced during this session of the National Assembly, making the Finance Minister and the Finance Secretary responsible for publishing details of all revenue and expenditure in the Official Gazette, allowing the people to track all transactions,” he stated.
The President added, “Failure to do so will be punished severely under the law.”
He firmly stated that oil revenues are the peoples’ money, and “they are entitled to know how much money is earned, how much is spent and on what it is spent.”
“I have also made it clear to my Ministers that transparency and accountability are the fundamental principles by which I expect them and myself to conduct ourselves, and to which I will hold them accountable. We are the custodians of the people’s assets and we will account to them for all that we do,” the President stated. These are the values that will guide the establishment of a regulatory framework that is independent of politicians.
The government is moving to make changes to the legal framework that governs the country’s Natural Resources Fund that was established by the previous administration, saying that the way the Fund is currently set up bestows too much power to the Minister of Finance. Already, Guyana has accumulated over US$200 million in the Fund from oil exports, royalty and interest.
A Petroleum Commission will also be established soon and will become the governing body for the oil and gas sector.