The National Assembly, via its Committee on Appointments, will now have the opportunity to consider and propose two nominees for the President to appoint on key boards governing Guyana’s Natural Resource Fund (NRF).
This follows the successful passage of a motion moved on Monday night by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh. His motion called for the Committee on Appointments to recommend a nominee to serve on the NRF’s Board of Directors as stipulated in Part III of the Act and for another nominee to serve on the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee (PAOC) in pursuant of Section VI of the new Act.
Dr. Singh noted that these appointments are possible due to the critical revisions made to the Act that was passed in December 2021. From the outset, the Finance Minister recalled that the PPP/C Government had serious concerns about the weak and almost nonexistent governance arrangement regarding the fund. The economist noted that the previous legislation gave extensive and excessive powers to the Minister of Finance on the management of the fund. Dr. Singh recalled that the repealed law allowed for the Finance Minister to control appointments, contract advisors, determine the fiscally and economically sustainable amounts to be withdrawn from the fund, and allowed for several line items to be settled by the fund without parliamentary approval.
He noted that the government was also concerned about the grave absence of a Board of Directors which was in direct violation of the Santiago Principles. He noted that the injection of an incomprehensible formula for transfers from the fund was another major flaw.
Minister Singh said these fatal defects have been corrected and an architecture that guarantees transparency and accountability is now in place.
According to the new NRF Act, a Board of Directors will now be in place with no less than three and no more than five persons to be appointed by the President. One of the nominees will also include a member from the private sector. The Chairperson is also selected by the Head of State.
As for the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee, its members would be appointed by the President and will include a nominee from the House, three representatives of the religious community, two from the private sector, two from organized labour, and one from the professions.
The members would be appointed for a period not exceeding two years and shall be eligible for reappointment. The law states that the committee would provide nongovernmental oversight of the fund, receive quarterly reports from the Board of Directors on the operations of the fund and meet no less than quarterly with the Board.
The Committee would also be required to prepare and submit to the Speaker of the House, an annual report on the discharge of its functions no later than April 30 of each fiscal year.


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