GEORGETOWN, Guyana, December 13, 2019 (CMC) — Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, says should the People’s Progressive Party-Civic (PPP-C) win the general elections next March, it will move to repeal the Natural Resources Act, which has been established to manage the country’s wealth from the oil industry.
Jagdeo told reporters that the passage of the legislation was illegal, coming after the coalition government of President David Granger had been defeated in a motion of no-confidence, a year ago.
“We made it clear, we are going to repeal this Act and then re-enact a proper Sovereign Wealth Fund that has appropriate safe guards, and that will keep the management of the Sovereign Wealth Fund at arm’s length from political authority,” Jagdeo said.
He said that when the existing legislation was taken before the National Assembly, the government would have already been in an interim position, having lost the motion of no-confidence he had successfully tabled against it, last December.
“The Natural Resource Fund is a fund that is created from a legislation that is illegal, as far as we are concerned. So I don’t know what is the big hullabaloo about this whole issue. It was passed after the no-confidence motion that was validly passed in the National Assembly, this bill was then passed by the National Assembly. So the government had fallen when this bill was passed,” he added.
Jagdeo said that the recent memorandum of understanding, between the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Guyana, for the operational management of the Fund, was nothing more than a public relations stunt.
“(Governor of Central bank) Gobin Ganga if he gets a call from the Minister, he runs over to the Ministry. Central Bank reports to the Minister. How much independence do you have there, when… a big show is made of this pact signed between the Central Bank and the Minister to manage the Fund. It is all a show,” he insisted.
Jagdeo said the PPP-C administration would insist on a sovereign wealth fund that is technically, and not politically, managed.
The Natural Resources Act provides for the appointment of three committees to manage the revenues from oil. But the members have not yet been appointed, since the opposition and the private sector have not yet named their representatives to the committee.