By Gary Eleazar
The 22-member Public Accountability and Oversight Committee to be established under Guyana’s Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act, is not in place as yet but Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, is confident there are enough mechanisms in place to safeguard the country’s oil revenues and its management, despite the absence of that body.
Minister Jordan comments came yesterday during a press engagement in the conference room of the Ministry of Finance.
He was asked to pronounce on the absence of the oversight committee and its impact on public trust with regards the management and general use of the fund.
Minister Jordan addressed some of the difficulties being experienced with setting up the 22-member committee.
He used as an example, the political opposition’s position to not recognise the validity of the Act or the administration in the first place.
He said the legislation does cater for three different committees, two of which do not pose a problem in their establishment.
He conceded, “It is clear that establishing the oversight committee is more difficult than the others.”
The Minister explained that while the Investment and Macro Economic Committees are relatively straightforward in their establishment, the oversight committee has 22 members, with each representative having a different mechanism to even arrive at a nominee. “So that will take some time.”
Central Bank Governor, Dr. Gobin Ganga, who was on hand for the briefing, used the opportunity to spell out that the regulator will be responsible for the management of the fund, including its investment, receiving deposits, making payments and generally accounting for the resources.
These, he said, includes the maintenance of the books with regards all of the financial assets and liabilities, appointing and dismissing managers and custodians, banking correspondents, dealers, brokers and other institutions necessary for the proper implementation of the fund.
According to Dr. Ganga, the Bank would be responsible for preparing monthly, quarterly and annual reports with regards the operations of the fund.
He said, too, that it is the Bank of Guyana, which will be responsible for meeting the expenditure as it relates to the operationlising of the fund in addition to implementing the managements systems and procedures.
The Governor said, too, that it is the bank that will be responsible for developing risk management systems and developing the human resources “so as to ensure effective operational management of the fund.”
He said that it will be the responsibility of the Bank of Guyana to advise the Minister of Finance with regards activity that affects the management and value of the fund in addition to providing the public with information with regards the fund as is required by law.
He said that the legislation also provides for penalties with regards the use of the fund.
According to Dr. Ganga, action will be brought against officials for misuse of the fund and losses.
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