In keeping with the promises it made on the 2020 election campaign trail, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Bishop Juan Edghill, who was bestowed today with the responsibility of Minister of Finance, announced during the reading of his maiden budget speech that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) administration will implement several measures to ensure Guyana has a transparent and accountable oil industry.
During his presentation at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Minister Edghill noted that the petroleum industry will bring not only significant financial resources and enormous transformational opportunities but also many challenges. In this regard, he noted that there are many examples around the world where developing countries have obtained windfalls from oil and gas but have eventually ended up poorer than before. To ensure Guyana does not walk the same line, Minister Edghill said that central to PP/C’s strategy in the sector will be a framework for proper management of the resource, transparency and accountability, and securing benefits for Guyanese.
To ensure that the oil resource is managed responsibly, Edghill said that the PPP/C will immediately engage the oil and gas companies in better contract administration/renegotiation, establish an arm’s length Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) insulated from political interference, define by legislation how funds will flow from the SWF into the budget and the purpose for which they will be used, ensure that expenditures are transparently determined and go through the parliamentary process, and establish a model Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) based on industry-wide standards and best practices. Edghill said that the purpose of this is to ensure that Guyanese receive maximum benefit from these contracts without disincentivizing foreign investors in the sector.
In addition to the foregoing, Edghill said that the government has every intention of ensuring the training of thousands of Guyanese at every level to create a national core of managers and workforce to chart the future direction and effectively manage the sector.
He also told members of the National Assembly that the government will be placing significant efforts into preventing the squandering of the oil money. Towards this end, he said that the PPP/C administration intends to uphold the Santiago Principles of transparency and accountability as well as those associated with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), criminalise non-disclosure of receipt of funds from oil revenues, ensure annual reports from the Government are laid in the National Assembly detailing oil revenues and expenditures, and ensure there are regular audits.
Edghill said that the government will also make certain that civil society is involved in a central role to monitor compliance and accountability where these measures are concerned.