Gov’t seeking parliamentary nomination for oil fund board member

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Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for finance Dr. Ashni Singh has filed a motion asking the National Assembly to nominate one member for the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Board of Directors.

The nomination is provided for in the Natural Resource Fund Act 2021, which became law in December. The Board of Directors is a new governance mechanism introduced for the Fund by the PPP/C Government.

It adds a layer of separation between political leaders and the Fund, where previously there was none. The Board will comprise three to five members; one Director shall be nominated by the National Assembly but not a Member of Parliament, and another from the private sector.

These directors will be appointed by the President Dr. Irfaan Ali; he will also appoint the Chairperson of the Board.

The new law explains that 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.

The Act also contains provisions which confine the selection of directors to having wide experience and ability in legal, financial, business, or administrative matters, and prohibits the appointment of a person who is a member of the National Assembly.

Parliament is expected to vote to refer the matter to the Committee of Appointments, in accordance with Parliamentary Standing Order 84(3)(b)(iii), for it to make a suitable recommendation to the Assembly on the candidate to be identified as the nominee.

The motion will be laid in parliament on Monday, January 24, 2022.

The advancement of the provisions of the Natural Resource Fund Act, including appointments of directors and committee members, are in preparation for an early withdrawal from the Fund, to finance pressing development initiatives.

The Act has a long list of mechanisms which promote transparency and practical governance. Parliamentary scrutiny is a cornerstone of the governance mechanism the government has set in place to ensure the operations of the Fund are above board.

Recently, President Ali told the News Room that the members appointed will be people of integrity, who possess the necessary expertise to manage an oil wealth fund. He also posited that there will be no direct political influence. [Extracted and modified from DPI]

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