The Government of Guyana says it is committed to ensuring that legislation is in place by 2020 that is “both responsive to national concerns and meets international best practices.” This is the view of Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, who commended his colleague Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, for his efforts, in this regard.
He said, “I was quite happy to see that Minister of Finance brought to Cabinet a Green Paper on the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The work had started with this Ministry and then we handed it over to him in 2017 last year January and so thereafter international financial institutions, Ministry of Finance, experts and others went through it. They had done the first draft and pass it to us and then we passed it back to the Ministry of Finance.”
Commenting directly on the draft document, Minister Trotman said, “The fund, which I have seen a draft of, meets all of what is known as the Santiago Principles. Some years ago, in Santiago, Chile, countries with Sovereign Wealth Funds came together and designed the kind of model that they need.”
He said the fund will ensure budget stabilization, “so if there is a dip in the price of oil it will look after that.” He added, “It will ensure that government and social programmes are advanced as well as roads, bridges, health, education, care of the elderly and youth services are well taken care of and it will also ensure that there are savings for the future.”
Speaking on the Petroleum Commission Bill, he said, “After hearing so many criticisms on the Petroleum Commission Bill, in which, we use a model of other commission’s in Guyana, where the same powers, for example, at the Forestry Commission, Guyana Water Incorporated or the Georgetown Public Hospital are applied, we understand that people seem to want something different.”
In this regard, he said, the World Bank was recruited to study the Bill and make recommendations. “And then we asked them to go beyond recommendations and help us to re-craft the bill and they have done so and they have sent it back within the last seven days.”
He related that this revised bill will be presented to Cabinet next Tuesday for its perusal and it will, subsequently, be laid in the National Assembly.
The Commonwealth Secretariat has also been instrumental in preparing the country’s legislative framework in the emerging oil and gas sector.
The Minister stated that the Government has been working with the Commonwealth Secretariat to update the Petroleum Commission act of 1986 to take into consideration the new economic changes.
In addition, he said, “We have also received from the Commonwealth regulations for health and safety, for labour practices which I have sent to the Ministry of Social Protection. We have received regulations for the environmental practices; we have sent that as well. We have had regulations in place for local content. But we thought before we go to regulations for local content we should first finalize a policy. All of this is in the making and are being done simultaneously.”
The Natural Resources Minister is confident that before 2020, important bits of legislation will be in place to ensure the sustainable management of the oil and gas industry.