Oversight Committee for Guyana petroleum wealth fund being set up

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Winston Jordan, Guyana's Minister of Finance

Guyana’s Ministry of Finance is in the process of putting together the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee of the Natural Resource Fund being set up to manage billions of dollars expected from oil production.

The Natural Resource Fund bill was passed in Parliament on January 3rd and it was assented to by President David Granger on January 23.

The Public Oversight Committee is the largest committee being established to manage the Fund, with 22 members including members of the press. “We will be writing letters to persons who have been mentioned to form the committee, indicating their role and functions. We will also be inviting them soon to sensitization systems,” Mr. Jordan pointed out.

The Minister is currently reviewing draft letters and is hopeful that they can be dispatched to the respective persons by the end of April.

However, he noted that this may pose some challenges as the law makes specific reference to what constitutes the committee.

“The law makes reference to the group most representative of women, civil society and youth, but we are hopeful that we will get those sorted as early as possible,” he explained.

Mr. Jordan also disclosed that the Ministry will soon publish requests for proposals to manage the fund.

“What we need is an expert to help in the Ministry. This person must be based at the Ministry for about a year or two in the early part of our oil and gas preparations. For example, when we send out request for proposals, we would like those requests to identify the core issues in managing a fund, so we want to get it right,” he stated.

Mr. Jordan said this expert, when hired, must also be able to do “due diligence” on the companies that would express an interest in investing in the oil and gas sector in Guyana, “because these are very tricky things.

Meanwhile, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, at a press conference in February had stated that, “The legal framework for the Fund includes provisions for the management, the nature and source of deposits, withdrawals including parliamentary approval of amounts to be withdrawn, eligible investments for its resources, accounting and auditing of its records and codes of conduct for members of its oversight and investment committees.”

He said too that the fund has outlined procedures for calculating the fiscally obtainable amount.

According to the Minister, some of the possible long-term investments by the Government that would be catered for in the context of the fund are treasury bills, bank deposits, sovereign and corporate bonds, equities, derivatives and commodities.