…Says this was proven with the hiding of Exxon’s US$18M signing bonus
By Kiana Wilburg
Even though he made such utterances about a week ago, Central Bank Head, Dr. Gobind Ganga is in no position to assure the nation that he will prevent the APNU+AFC administration from abusing the Natural Resource Fund (NRF). The laws governing him do not give him the free reign to do so.
This line of argument was proffered yesterday by Attorney-at-Law, Charles Ramson during an interview with Kaieteur News. The Oil and Gas Academic pointed out that the Central Bank head is appointed by the President for a period not exceeding five years.
Ramson said, “Does Ganga know if his contract will be renewed and for how long? The law in Guyana is very clear about his employment and the possibilities of termination. Just have a look at Section 9 of the Bank of Guyana Act. It states that the Governor is appointed by the President for a period not exceeding five years. If he finds favour with the President he can be appointed for another term, again, not exceeding five years…The President may terminate the appointment of the governor and the minister may terminate the appointment of a director on the board of directors.”
Ramson said what is also significant is the fact that the Bank of Guyana Act does not empower the Governor to prevent abuse of the financial laws by his employer. He pointed out, too, that this extends to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
The lawyer added, “The Bank of Guyana Act was never designed to deal with the implications of such a Fund. I am of the firm belief that the provisions in the Bank of Guyana Act should be changed. It should state that the Governor should be appointed for a minimum of six years. This ensures that his tenure exceeds the electoral cycle.”
Another point for consideration is the manner in which the Governor of the Bank dealt with the infamous US$18M signing bonus, Ramson said.
The Attorney-at-Law noted that the hiding of the ExxonMobil bonus validates the incredibility of Dr. Ganga’s reassurance that he will prevent abuse by his employer, the government.
He said, “Guyana did not find out about the signature bonus until a year later after the information was leaked. The public does not know what that money is being ‘invested’ in.”
Ramson emphasized that Article 216 of the Constitution says that all revenue must be deposited in the Consolidated Fund. He stressed that this did not happen and the Bank of Guyana facilitated this breach of the Constitution.
“So how could we now hear the Governor offer reassurance that there will not be any abuse of the Natural Resource Fund? If he, the deputy or the Board of Directors do not do what the President and subject minister wants, they can be replaced. That is the reality before us.”
About a week ago, Dr. Ganga told Kaieteur News that when Guyana’s Natural Resource Fund is established, Central Bank is expected to be appointed as its Operational Manager.
He noted however that fears have been expressed by some about the Bank’s insulation from political interference. In light of such concerns, Dr. Ganga stated, “We will not allow any abuse of the Natural Resource Fund. The withdrawal rules will be upheld.”
The Bank of Guyana Governor noted that there will be quarterly and yearly reports about the operations of the Fund.
He said that there will be auditors coming in to do separate audits of the Bank’s work and these will be laid in Parliament. He said that the selection of these External Auditors will be determined by the law and they will be individuals who are certified to audit in Guyana.
Further to this, Dr. Ganga said that Central Bank has commenced a review of the skills that would be needed for the management of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF).
He added, “Our role is not anything difficult. The role of central bank will be to operationalize the Fund. When the money is coming in and it is placed into the Fund, our role will include where would we put the money in terms of investments and this would be guided by law. So the law will say you can only put your investments in Triple A securities which are very safe securities. We know what is needed and it is similar to what we have already been doing. It is similar to managing our own reserves.”
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