After conducting a number of moderated sessions on the draft Natural Resource Fund Bill, 38 Civil Society Actors (one of which includes, USA oil giant, ExxonMobil) have identified a number of key issues which they believe are important for consideration by the government.
One area of particular concern relates to the Ethical standards for investment of the oil revenues. According to the draft legislation, “The Investment Mandate shall be prepared in accordance with this Act and shall include -(a) directions relating to the management of credit, liquidity, operational, currency, market and other financial risks; (b) directions regarding ethical investments, including policies, standards and procedures for avoiding prejudice to Guyana’s reputation as a responsible member of the world community; (e) the relevant index or indices for investments in eligible equities from those indices listed in section 35; (f) the maximum acceptable tracking error between the relevant index and the relevant eligible asset class; (g) directions relating to how frequently the Fund shall be rebalanced; and (h) such other directions, not inconsistent with this Act, as the Minister deems fit.”
But the activists said that this needs to be significantly modified. They said that the draft legislation should provide key guiding principles for ethical investment of oil revenues through the Investment Policy and Statement and Guidelines that identify limitations, restrictions and prohibited investments that are misaligned with the promotion of an inclusive green economy.
It said that exclusions to consider include: Production or trade in products or activity deemed to be in contravention to host country laws or regulations or international conventions and agreements, including international environmental agreements to which Guyana is a signatory; Companies that have been convicted of corruption, tax evasion, human rights abuses, causing environmental disasters and social upheavals; Production or trade in weapons and munitions; Trade and wildlife products regulated under CITES and Production or trade that cause permanent conversion of primary tropical forests that may have a significant impact on the environment.
Below is a list of the civil society bodies which contributed to the aforementioned recommendation.
- CARICOM Secretariat – Guyana
- CARICOM Youth Ambassadors
- Centre for Communication Studies – CCS
- Conservation International – Guyana
- Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL)
- Economic Transformations Group Inc. (ETG)
- Exxon Mobil/ Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited’s
- Forest Products Association
- Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA)
- Guyana Marine Conservation Society (GMCS)
- Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA)
- Guyana Youth Environment Network (GYEN)
- Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuySuCo)
- Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC)
- Guyana Organizations of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP)
- Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI)
- Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC)
- Independent Concerned Citizens of Guyana.
- John Fernandes Group of Companies – Bounty Farms
- Kingston University
- Lethem Power Company
- Mid Atlantic Oil and Gas
- Ministry of Finance (MoF)
- Melanie Smith Consultancies
- Nigel Hinds Financial Services Guyana
- Natural Resources Governance Institute (NRGI)
- Parliamentary Opposition – PPP/C
- Private Sector Commission (PSC)
- Policy Forum Guyana (PFG)
- Project Development Consultancy (PDC)
- Ram and McRae
- School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI)
- Tutorial Alumni Association
- Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI)
- The Consultancy Group (TCG)
- University of Guyana (UG)
- Faculty of Social Sciences
- Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences – FEES
- Philanthropy, Alumni Relations & Civic Engagement – PACE
- University of Guyana Student Society – UGSS
- University of Guyana Biology Society
- Volunteer Youth Corps. (VYC)
- W&T George and Co.