World Bank officials have indicated to the coalition Government that there is a need for “numerous mechanisms” to ensure public accountability to Guyanese on the oil sector. It made this known, even as it expressed satisfaction with the passage of the Natural Resource Fund Bill.

In a document seen by this news agency, the World Bank emphasised that the introduction of checks and balance is particularly important in small countries like Guyana which has a few qualified persons to oversee the sector. In such cases, the organisation said that a handful of people may dominate the governance system by accumulating multiple roles. It said that the country needs to guard against this.

Further, the Bank said, “The government needs to immediately introduce key mechanisms for public accountability, including rigid audits of sector-specific agencies, amendments to laws on access to information, and timely disclosure of its decisions to the public. Also, where responsibilities for the oversight of the sector have been concentrated in one organisation (e.g., the Department of Energy), sections responsible for regulation should be set up as functionally distinct units. This will allow for them to be spun off as independent regulatory agencies when the time comes…”

The Bank also said that accurate information and the right levels of transparency are essential for accountability. It said, “Whatever the precise mechanisms of governance and accountability in a particular national context, their effectiveness depends on reliable, relevant, and timely information. Most importantly, more data needs to be released to the citizens to remove the cover for possible corruption, build trust, enable good decisions, and allow for rapid intervention to correct problems in the system.”

The World Bank then emphasised that with increased measures for public accountability, only then can the public be assured that government officials are answerable for their actions and there is redress when duties and commitments are not met.


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