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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

World Bank funding to help boost GRA technical capacity in O&G

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Priority is being given in Guyana to the full establishment of a unit that deals specifically with oil and gas within the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) – the South American country’s tax agency.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan in an interview on Monday said, “At the moment we are concentrating on getting a specialized unit into the GRA. That is our critical priority at the moment.”

Mr. Jordan’s comments are in line with what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggested in its November 2017 technical assistance report, “Guyana: A reform agenda for petroleum taxation and revenue management.” The report was compiled following a scoping mission in the South American country based on a request for technical assistance by authorities.

The IMF said plans to establish a petroleum industry taxpayer unit at GRA should be prioritized and it believes that “this effort should be supported by a peripatetic advisor from the US Treasury office of technical assistance.”

It was just in January that Commissioner General of GRA, Godfrey Statia, confirmed that aspects of the unit are up and running as the country increases preparations for commercial oil production in 2020.

However, he noted the need for specialized training for its staff; a point which Minister Jordan also made. “The GRA will also receive some financial assistance from the World Bank in heightening its technical expertise in the oil and gas sector. Hopefully, this programme can be in place early next year, all things going in well.”

The IMF Technical Report also suggested that the unit establishes close working relations with regulators in the petroleum sector, which are the Ministry of Natural Resources, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the soon-to-be established Petroleum Commission.

This, it added, is to ensure that the limited petroleum sector expertise in government is applied most efficiently. It also mentioned that a Guyana-specific application of the IMF-developed Fiscal Analysis of Resource Industries (FARI) model could be useful in this context.

The report stated that “This would provide a foundation for long-run revenue forecasts, under different scenarios for commodity prices and production levels.”

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