President Irfaan Ali used his inaugural address to Parliament on Thursday to assure Guyanese that, among other things, his government will ensure full accountability for Guyana’s oil and gas resources.
The President said his government intends to account to the nation for every cent earned from the oil and gas industry.
“My government also intends to account to the nation for every cent earned from the industry and for every cent that is spent,” the President said.
To ensure this is accomplished, he told the Parliament that legislation will be introduced to make the Minister of Finance and the Finance Secretary responsible for publishing details of all revenues and expenditure relating to oil.
This information will be published in the national gazette and supported by legislation. To prove his seriousness, the President said the legislation, which will be tabled soon, will ensure that if the information is not published then failure to do so would be punishable by law.
“We are the custodians of the people’s assets and we will account to them for all that we do, that is why we will also establish a regulatory framework that is independent of politicians,” he added.
The Head-of-State said that several measures will be taken to ensure the oil sector is properly governed among which is the modernization of Guyana’s oil laws. Dr Ali said his government will also take steps to build the capacity for cost oil audits.
He noted too that work has begun to create a model Production Sharing Agreement that is in line with international standards. Even with the Petroleum Commission still to be established, Dr Ali said efforts continue to ensure the fortifying the local content policy and accompanying legislation.
“Guyanese must not be second class citizens in their own industry… oil companies have a right to make a fair profit even as we secure benefits for Guyanese.
“We must also acknowledge that we cannot take advantage of our oil and gas resource es without the investment of the companies now operating in the sector. They are entitled to a fair return on their investment. Therefore, our relationship should be based on fairness, equity and mutual interest,” the President added.
But even with work ongoing to strengthen the regulatory and legislative governance framework for the oil and gas sector, the President made it clear that the nation’s traditional sectors will not be abandoned.
Ali said that efforts will be made to ensure a portion of the oil money is used to make these industries globally competitive.