To stamp out corruption in the local oil and gas industry, the three-week-old People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government will introduce imprisonment for non-disclosure of revenues coming from the industry and reduce the interface between politicians and oil companies.
This is according to Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo. He told a Kaieteur News radio programme on Thursday evening that the Finance Minister and Secretary to the Treasury will be responsible for ensuring every dollar received is revealed in the official gazette.
“As soon as we get over the budget [we will pass] the legislation that will criminalise non-disclosure of revenue or any receipt from oil companies. So we made it clear that the Minister of Finance and the Secretary to the Treasury would have under legislation to gazette every cent collected from the oil companies –$1 or $100,” Jagdeo said.
The Vice President said, “should they fail to do that, there will be a jail penalty attached to it.”
He added “what happened with the $18M US, that can never happen again,” referring to a signing bonus received by the former APNU+AFC Government from ExxonMobil in 2016.
The sum spent one year in an account at the Bank of Guyana unknowing to the public and in violation of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMA).
By stating the sums received in the official gazette, Guyanese will be able to track the oil revenues coming into the country.
Guyana’s oil revenue will be placed in the Natural Resources Fund and there are certain provisions for monies to be approved by Parliament before it is spent.
Additionally, Government Ministers will be removed from negotiating directly with oil companies so as to ensure the monies are not funnelled to private bank accounts.
“We are going to ensure that under the new Government…we move to more technical agencies performing more of the tasks with the oil companies, so minimizing the contact between the politicians and the oil companies.
“That any negotiation could be from a policy perspective led by maybe, a Minister, the guidance from the Minister of Cabinet but the negotiations themselves are done at the technical level to minimizing contact at that negotiating level where persons can trade policies,” Jagdeo stated.
He also committed to flagging wrongdoings as the General Secretary of his party.
“Frankly speaking, if I see something wrong, I will speak up about it because we will not allow anyone to taint the Government,” the Vice President said.
Further, he said his Government will hold fast to its promises of putting in place Campaign financing.