Govt withdraws US$200M from Natural Resource Fund

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh on Thursday announced that, following the passage of Budget 2023 in the National Assembly last week, the Government has made its first drawdown this year from the Natural Resource Fund, in accordance with the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act 2021.

The Minister indicated that, pursuant to Section 16 of the NRF Act 2021, US$200 million, equivalent to G$41.6 billion, has been transferred from the NRF to the Consolidated Fund to finance national development priorities.

“It would be recalled that, in keeping with the NRF Act 2021, US$607.6 million was withdrawn in 2022 to finance national development priorities, and as part of the Budget 2023 process, Parliamentary approval was granted for a total of US$1.002 billion to be transferred during fiscal year 2023,” the Minister said in a statement.

The NRF Act 2021, which came into operation on January 1 2022, represents a significant improvement in transparency and accountability, and the overall management of Guyana’s natural resource wealth for present and future generations.

In December 2022, the Government made its third withdrawal — US$207.6 million (G$43 billion) in oil funds — from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF), which went towards financing Guyana’s national development plans. In announcing that withdrawal, the Finance Minister had said, “It would be recalled that in May and July of this year (2022), the Government made withdrawals totalling US$400 million, equivalent to G$83 billion. This brings the accumulated withdrawals from the NRF for the year 2022 to US$607.6 million, equivalent to G$126 billion, in line with approved amount in the 2022 Budget.”

In January of this year, the Bank of Guyana signed an agreement to officially hand over control of the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) to the Board of Directors appointed by the President. According to Section 5 (6) (d) of the Act, the Board is required to enter into an operational agreement with the Bank, so that management of the Fund can change hands. This agreement was signed two days after the reading of the 2023 Budget.

The funds from the NRF have their origins in the Stabroek Block – the only block currently producing oil. The Block is 6.6 million acres (26,800 square kilometres).