Guyana’s Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, is making it clear that the role of the Sovereign Wealth Fund is not to outline what oil revenues will be spent on, but rather, to serve as a mechanism to ensure monies are managed effectively for current and future generations.
Mr Jordan explained during a recent interview that, “It is not for the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SFW) or Natural Resource Fund to say whether we will spend the money to build refineries, cash transfers or whatever. That is not the role of the Sovereign Wealth Fund that is the role of the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) and the budget.”
The Finance Minister stated that discussions about what revenues will be spent on should be pursued in the context of the GSDS. “We said to people if they want those discussions, the consultations on the Green State Development Strategy are going on right now and they are free to make proposals,” he said.
Mr Jordan’s remarks come in wake of concerns raised in the public domain that not much is being done to educate the populace on the purpose of the fund.
To this end, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association recently organized a discussion on the Sovereign Wealth Fund, which took place on Thursday, August 13, 2018, at the Pegasus hotel in Georgetown.
The Finance Minister pointed out that efforts have been ongoing by his office to raise the level of awareness as what the fund is designed to accomplish. “We have gone in the newspapers. We have had our TV shows. We have discussions on the radio and so on, trying to break it down as simply as possible to the public,” he pointed out.
He said, “When I listen to some of the comments, most people want a SWF that will speak to what we will do with the money and we are saying for the umpteen time that is not what our Natural Resource Fund is seeking to do.”
He said the main discussion at the moment should be on how revenues from oil will be treated; whether all goes into the consolidated fund or if it will go straight into the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Added to that, he said, “Once they (oil revenues) get into the Sovereign Wealth Fund, how do they get out? What are the rules for getting them out? What are the reporting and transparency mechanism to ensure that the monies are not caught up in the Cayman Islands, for example? What are the reporting requirements, who can do what? If the discussions are on those, then we are happy.”
In early August, the Government presented its Green Paper on the SWF to the National Assembly. The document was tabled with the intent of stimulating discussion both in Parliament as well as in the public domain.