Oil money to be protected from political interference, squandering and misuse – Bharrat

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Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat has told regional oil executives that Guyana intends to manage its oil wealth with strict adherence to transparency, accountability and securing benefits for all Guyanese.

Minister Bharrat was at the time delivering the keynote address at the opening of the Caribbean Virtual Oil and Gas Summit (CARVIS) on Tuesday.

He told Summit Delegates, which included a number of regional oil companies and government officials, that in order to ensure that Guyana’s oil resource is managed responsibly, the government will immediately engage the oil and gas companies in better contract administration and renegotiation.

Bharrat said too that the government intends to establish a Petroleum Commission to provide the much-needed technical oversight to enhance the regulation of the petroleum sector.

In addition, the government will also establish an arm’s length Natural Resource Fund insulated from political interference.

“We are also in the process of establishing a Technical Task Force on natural gas to ensure, not only that gas is brought to shore in the shortest possible time to reduce our energy insecurities in the power sector, but also have an over-all plan for the utilisation and monetization of gas. Another early and key initiative is moving to have the Petroleum Commission Bill passed in the National Assembly so as to effectuate the establishment of the Petroleum Commission and provide the technical institutional framework for the enhanced regulation of the sector,” he said.

The Minister also promised that in order to prevent oil monies from being squandered or misused, the government will, among other things, uphold the Santiago Principles of transparency and accountability and the Extractive Industry Transparency Index.

He said non-disclosure of receipt of funds from oil revenues will be criminalized and all annual reports from the government will be laid in the National Assembly detailing oil revenues and expenditures.

“We will ensure that there are regular audits and involve Civil Society in a central role to monitor compliance and accountability. The oil resource, as all Guyana’s natural resources, belongs to the people of Guyana. Our Government will ensure that oil revenues works for all Guyanese, and is spent on improving people’s lives and wealth generation,” he added.

Some areas in which oil revenues will be directed are to support for job creation, world class education and health care systems, social and economic infrastructure and targeted cash transfer to Guyanese particularly the elderly, children, the poor and other vulnerable groups.

Notwithstanding these promises, Bharrat emphasized the need for greater capacity building, standards raising and knowledge transfer.

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