Oversight of oil monies now bolstered with appointment of NRF Board, key committees

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday officially appointed the Natural Resource Fund Board, saying that this will bring true value to the sector while adding that these positions must be undertaken by people who are not political in nature.

The Public Accountability and Oversight Committee and the Investment Committee were also appointed to serve in their respective roles after taking the oath of office.The Natural Resource Fund Board will be chaired by Major General (Retired) Joe Singh. Other members are Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett; former MP for the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Dunstan Barrow; longstanding executive of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Ramesh Dookhoo; and former CDB President, Professor Compton Bourne. These appointees will serve for a period of two years.

As they received their instruments of appointment at the Office of the President, the Head or State underscored that in fulfilling this responsibility to the oil sector, Guyana will have persons who demonstrate capacity and capability.“We promise, that in administering our responsibility to this sector, we will have persons who demonstrate the capacity and capability to manage but more importantly, that the Government would have an arm’s length relationship and would have a group of people not political in nature,” Ali positioned.

United Kingdom Member of Parliament (MP) with Guyanese roots, David Lammy was initially selected to serve on the Board. However, Dr Ali said that Guyanese-born Professor Bourne is an excellent replacement for the role.

However, the President updated, “We all know the circumstances and environment in which he’s operating has changed. Due to changes in his requirement at home in the UK, he asked us not to have him play a part on this Board at this time because it would not be keeping with what his priorities are in the UK.”Section 3 (1) of the NRF Act 2021, Act No 19 of 2021, which was assented to by President Ali on December 30, 2021, establishes the NRF to manage the natural resource wealth of Guyana for the present and future benefit of the people in an effective and efficient manner and in accordance with the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability, and international best practices, including the Santiago Principles.

Section 5 (1) of the Act provides for a Board of Directors of the Fund comprising not less than three and not more than five members, who shall be appointed by the President, inclusive of a Chairperson. In accordance with Section 5 (2), these Directors are to be selected from persons who have wide experience in legal, financial, business, or administrative matters, one of whom shall be nominated by the National Assembly and one of whom shall be a representative of the private sector.

Other committees

The Public Accountability and Oversight Committee will be chaired by former Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Clement Sealey.The other six members are Wendell Jeffrey, Abu Zaman, Ryan Alexander, Dawn Gardener, Teni Housty, and Aslim Singh.

Meanwhile, the Investment Committee was handed their instruments of appointment by Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh.

The Investment Committee follows a makeup of seven members who will advise the NRF Board on matters that concern investing the oil funds, in a way that maximises the benefits to Guyana.

Chairperson Shaleeza Shaw was sworn in with members Michael Monroe and Richard Rambarran. The other four members will be sworn in at a later date. Government is also awaiting a nomination from Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, who has been engaged via correspondence.

This Committee must have a makeup of a nominee of the Minister to serve as Chairperson, a nominee of the Minister responsible for the petroleum sector, a nominee from the Attorney General, a nominee of the Opposition Leader, a nominee of the private sector and two ex-officio non-voting members.

President Ali pointed out that they are awaiting the nomination from Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton.

“I also want to make it clear that in accordance with the Act, the Leader of the Opposition must also nominate someone to sit on the Investment Committee. We’re awaiting that nomination.”