Board of Directors, no Parliamentarian, proposed to manage oil money
A new Board of Directors, comprising three to five members, is being proposed to manage Guyana’s Natural Resource Fund (NRF) and one of those members shall be a representative of the private sector.
The highly- anticipated proposed amendments to the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act were tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh.
As per the amendments, a Board of Directors is being proposed as part of efforts to distance the management of the fund from ministerial influence. As such, no Member of Parliament can be part of this Board.
The directors shall be selected from among persons who have “wide experience and ability in legal, financial, business or administrative matters”. One Director shall be nominated by the National Assembly and another from the private sector.
These directors will be responsible for the overall management and oversight of the fund, reviewing and approving the policies of the fund and monitoring the performance of the fund.
Importantly, the Board also functions to ensure compliance with the approved policies of the fund. And, the Board will provide information and reports required by the subject minister.
These directors shall be appointed for a period not exceeding two years but they will be eligible for reappointment. Appointments must be published widely, in the Official Gazette, online and in two daily newspapers.
Additionally, the amendments propose that a Public Accountability and Oversight Committee shall also be established and appointed by the President.
This committee is expected to provide non-governmental oversight of the fund. And, it will meet with and receive reports from the Board of Directors.
The members of this committee will include a nominee of the National Assembly, three representatives of the religious committee, two representatives of the private sector, two representatives of organised labour and one representative of the professions.
Importantly, these members shall be appointed for a period not exceeding two years but they will be eligible for reappointment. Appointments must be published widely also.
These amendments are part of the government’s commitment to introducing imprisonment for non-disclosure of revenues coming from the oil and gas industry and reducing the interface between politicians and oil companies.
Recently, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo announced one of the major changes would be the institution of a hefty 10-year imprisonment penalty if the Finance Minister does not reveal that oil monies have been received, after at least three months of receiving those revenues.
As per the amendments, this penalty has been instituted and the individual found culpable is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of five million dollars in addition to the ten-year jail time.