Former Auditor General and Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran is disappointed that the Petroleum Commission Bill has been languishing in a special select committee for more than five years.

In his column published by Stabroek News today, Goolsarran reminded that it was in May 2017 the bill was presented to the National Assembly. It provides for the establishment of a Petroleum Commission ‘to monitor and regulate the efficient, safe, effective and environmentally responsible exploration, development and production of petroleum in Guyana’.

Specific functions include: monitoring and ensuring compliance with national policies, laws and agreements relating to petroleum operations; ensuring compliance with health, safety and environmental standards in  petroleum operations in cooperation with other government agencies; promoting local content; and participating in the measurement of petroleum to allow for estimation and assessment of royalty and profit oil and gas due to the State.

The Bill was referred to a Special Select Committee for detailed scrutiny in June 2017. “Regrettably, to date there has been no further development, raising important questions about seriousness of the present Administration to have in place a comprehensive legislative framework for the oversight of the operations of the petroleum sector,” the Chartered Accountant wrote. He urged that that the relevant authorities take urgent measures to have the Petroleum Commission in place.

Last year April, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo had said government is still intent on creating a Petroleum Commission while acknowledging that it is critical to any government’s regulatory architecture. At the same time, Dr. Jagdeo had said the absence of such a body in Guyana does not mean that the sector is hanging from a dangerous precipice.

Dr. Jagdeo said a Petroleum Commission simply ensures that all payments for the sector are properly accounted for, that key financial documents are not hidden and licences that are awarded are made public.

The Vice President said this is already being done in a transparent manner by his government.

He had said too that the administration is intent on ensuring the right model is in place; one that does not repose full control in a minister or other political appointee over the body.


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