– Sovereign Wealth Fund advisor
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
The age old idiom, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” is probably the most simple way to relate the expressions of international Sovereign Wealth Fund expert, Andrew Bauer as he spoke about Guyana’s road to first oil and beyond.
Bauer, who is attached to the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), recently facilitated an interview with Kaieteur News.
During the interview, this newspaper pointed to a five-page report done by Bauer and David Mihalyi titled, “Premature Funds: How Over enthusiasm and Bad Advice Can Leave Countries Poorer.”
Bauer was asked to speak about the advice that Guyana has been receiving thus far and whether these fell into the category of “bad advice” that can make countries poorer.
Bauer told Kaieteur News, “I think people like to label institutions as good or bad; that is not ever the case, there are individuals in institutions—like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Commonwealth Secretariat, Chatham House and NRGI—who would provide good advice and others who would provide not so good ones. Some ‘experts’ would take a context specific approach and some would just give the same advice to every country no matter the circumstances.”
CONTEXT SPECIFIC ADVICE
Kaieteur News tried to ascertain whether Bauer thinks Guyana is being given the much needed context specific advice about which he spoke.
Bauer said: “Look at the amount of time that foreign experts spend in your country before giving certain advice and you can answer that for yourself.”
He continued, “Meaning do they know Guyana? Have they taken the time to learn more than just what they read? Do they spend time with the right people in Guyana? Are they just hanging out with government officials?”
Bauer said that there are certain “individuals who are real experts in their field, they know they do not know Guyana yet, they provide as much advice as they can, knowing that they do not know Guyana. “
Bauer said that such individuals may provide multiple solutions to persons in Guyana who have a better understanding of Guyana’s needs so they can see which of the recommendations are best after evaluation.
But, he said too that there are “others who come here knowing they do not know Guyana but pretend that they do. Those are the ones to be wary of. There are people who are trying to do the best they can.”
Bauer was keen to point out that there is certain advice that is considered “one size fits all.”
“Some things are global like the assets publication requirement I was talking about before. There is not a single place on earth I would not recommend that, that is not context specific. What is context specific for example is how much (of the) money (from oil the country should) save and spend.”
“In my providence in Canada, Quebec, if we had the same oil that you guys have, I would say save a bunch of the money. We have no need to spend crazy amounts right now. But Guyana is not Quebec, Guyana has poverty. It needs to spend and it has the possibility to spend providing we have a National Development plan that makes sense. So, I would not provide the same advice; but, how much to spend? I would have to spend three years here to tell you how much to spend. But I can tell you need to spend.”
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