Operationalisation of oil fund expected after elections – Guyana finance minister

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Winston Jordan, Guyana’s Minister of Finance

Guyana’s Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, is calling on politicians and others in the country not to politicize the Natural Resource Fund (NRF), also known as the Sovereign Wealth Fund, but see the value in its operationalisation.

In a recent interview at his Main Street, Georgetown office, he said, “It is not a Minister Jordan fund. It is not a coalition Government fund. It is the people of Guyana fund so whichever Government is in power, the people themselves must be empowered to watch closely what is going on…they want to be sure that there is a transparent way of seeing the money…transparent way of how that money is being spent…and a transparent way of auditing.”

In this regard, he said the Government wants to involve as much persons as possible in the transparent and accountable management of the fund.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) is one of the agencies that has been tasked to nominate a suitable person to sit on the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee of the NRF.

In a recent interview with PSC Chairman Gerry Gouveia, he had said the commission is actively working to identify such a person and hopes to complete this process soon. “The NRF outlines very stringent guidelines for persons who are expected to sit on the committees and the PSC don’t want to make any mistakes where that is concerned. We are searching for a person, both locally and overseas,” he had said.

Jordan said he had explained to the PSC that even though they are putting up someone from the Private Sector Commission that the person does not necessarily have to come from the private sector. “…their representative has to be someone who is representing their interest and since these are very technical committees then they should look for the highest accolade for that particular person.”

The PSC, he said, was also asked to state clearly where this particular person was sourced from.

In other words, he pointed out, “We want to be sure that the person is not some political hack, but that this committee will be one that all of Guyana will be proud of…we want to be sure that we do not make mistakes of other places. The committee must bring only their professional and technical competence, not their political competence.”

Nevertheless, he was keen to point out that the Government is not in a hurry to make such an appointment, but will still continue to do the work to ensure persons are identified for the various committees of the fund so when the time is right the appointments can be made.

The Government is currently operating in an interim status, following the successful passage of the December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.

The finance minister said that any appointment to the committees that govern the NRF will have to take place after March 2, 2020 when Regional and General elections are held.

Speaking to reporters in early September, Jordan had indicated that the Government will be restricted from spending the monies placed in the NRF until after general elections.

However, he does not foresee this having a major impact on its usual work programme.